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Washington D.C. Sees a Drastic Decline in HIV Diagnoses

Washington D.C. Sees a Drastic Decline in HIV Diagnoses

The nation's capital saw a near 74 percent drop in new HIV diagnoses.

Washington, D.C. has made incredible strides towards reducing the rising HIV rates in the city over the last few years, thanks in large part to D.C.’s needle exchange program, a reduction of mother-to-child transmission, a larger focus on HIV education and testing outreach as well as condom distribution. 

The latest report shows that HIV rates declined from 1,333 in 2007 to 347 in 2016. That’s a 74 percent drop in nine years! But despite rapid progress, the city remains in an epidemic with nearly 13,000 people (around 2 percent of the population) living with HIV, according to an annual report from the D.C. Health Department

“I’m pleased to say we have made considerable progress, but I don’t have to tell you there is more work to do,” said mayor Murial E. Bowser at a press conference. This week, Bowser jumped on board a “UequalsU” campaign, proclaiming to the public that HIV-positive people with undetectable viral loads are untransmittable, meaning it’s impossible for them to transmit the virus to others. 

Last year, Bowser partnered with the Appleseed Center in an effort she called the 90-90-90-50 plan (similar to the United Nations’ 90-90-90 plan), seeking to have 90 percent of HIV-positive people in D.C. know their status, 90 percent of HIV-positive in D.C. on treatment, 90 percent of those on treatment to be undetectable, and to see a 50 percent decrease in new diagnoses. 

Clearly, Bowser’s city is well on its way to achieving the goal. But they’re not there yet. 

The nation’s capital comes in as having the 12th highest rates of HIV in the country. In 2015, the area including Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; and Alexandria, West Virginia accounted for 1,308 new HIV cases. In total, there were 19,610 people living with HIV in these regions, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 HIV Surveillance report

Last year, the city distributed over 6 million male and female condoms and removed nearly 800,000 needles from the street. According to the Washington Post, the city’s needle exchange program helped reduce the number of drug-related HIV diagnoses from 149 in 2007 to 7 in 2016. 

By far, the most affected by HIV in D.C. are black men who have sex with men. According to AIDSVu, gay and bisexual men overall account for nearly 67 percent of all HIV cases, while African-Americans (both male and female) accounted for 74 percent of all cases. Six percent of all black men in the city (straight and gay) are said to be HIV-positive. 

Also Read: 

The 15 States Most Likely to Have an HIV Outbreak

The 15 U.S. Cities With the Highest Rates of New HIV Diagnoses

The Top 20 STIs and How to Avoid (and Treat) Them


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