Eric Leven

HIV "Modern Epidemic" In DC

Filed By Eric Leven | November 26, 2007 5:17 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: HIV/AIDS, sex ed, Washington D.C.

According to this Washington Post article, DC is hit hard with HIV/AIDS.

The article states the old stereotype that HIV/AIDS is a "gay disease" can no longer hold and is now, more than ever, clearly untrue. The African-American and African-American female communities are being hit the hardest. 80% of all new infections are found within the African-American community. One should note, however, that African-Americans are also the highest population of people within the DC area.

The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District, released today in a sweeping report, reveal "a modern epidemic" remarkable for its size, complexity and reach into all parts of the city.

The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV's impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.

The 120-page report, which includes the city's first AIDS update since 2000, shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population. HIV was spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District's cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.

"It blows the stereotype out of the water," said Shannon Hader, who became head of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration in October. Increases by sex, age and ward over the past six years underscore her blunt conclusion that "HIV is everybody's disease here."

The new numbers are a statistical snapshot, not an estimate of the prevalence of infection in the District, which is nearly 60 percent black. Hader, an epidemiologist and public health physician who has worked on the disease in this country and internationally, said previous projections remain valid: One in 20 city residents is thought to have HIV and 1 in 50 residents to have AIDS, the advanced manifestation of the virus.


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Boston Butch | November 26, 2007 6:09 PM

Of course this is alarming, but how do we support our gay African-American brothers when we broadcast that HIV is no longer a "gay disease?" The latest statistics I've heard nationally is that 46% of African-American gay men are infected and that young Black gay men in their 20s and 30s make up 25% of the entire epidemic.

Shouldn't that be a wake up call to the LGBT movement to get back in the HIV business before we lose a generation of gay Black men?

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | November 26, 2007 7:37 PM

38 percent left...how much of that is IDU-related? How much of the gay 25 percent and black 37 percent IDU, too, or just plain IDU? Admitting to IDU is admitting to a crime, not something that promotes honest responses. Could it be that D.C.'s causational pattern is actually closer to nearby Baltimore's than it actually seems?

Prevention can be such disheartening work. You are always butting heads with human denial and strong human drives, it requires creating a critical mass of behavioral expectations that can then lead to angry backlashes when their latter are not followed due to those human formers.

It takes such a strong positive outlook -- a deep, almost Pollyanna-esque belief in the better angels of us all. Is it any wonder that we sometimes just want a break?

Marla - what's an IDU?

...shows how a condition once considered a gay disease has moved into the general population.

So what in the hell are they trying to say here? "Once considered a gay disease" seems as if they're trying to say "Enlightened people don't think that now." But then they throw in "has moved into the general population" which basically says, "Well, it was a gay disease until they gave it to the rest of us!"

Of course this is alarming, but how do we support our gay African-American brothers when we broadcast that HIV is no longer a "gay disease?"

We support them by focusing on all of our brothers and sisters regardless of their race. And we do that while broadcasting that HIV/AIDS is not just a gay disease. The article says 1 in 20 citizens are infected - not 1 in 20 LGBT citizens.

Politically Incorrect | November 27, 2007 1:17 PM

AIDS is not a gay disease. It started in Africa and spread from there. It is prevailent in societies that lack moral values like the gay and black communities.

Carlos Montano | November 27, 2007 5:19 PM

DC has a huge problem that other cities do not have: the federal government. Because congress has to sign off on virtually everything the city does, programs like needle exchanges and community education/outreach go unfunded or underfunded. Couple this with the city's own bureaucratic overhead, and the status quo is sadly not surprising.