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HIV/AIDS at Epidemic Levels in Washington DC

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Writer Experts say the rate of HIV/AIDS in Washington DC has become a “severe epidemic” with every mode of transmission of the disease found to be on the rise. A new report scheduled to be released by the District’s HIV/AIDS office today has found that at least three percent of DC residents – or 2,984 residents per every 100,000 persons over the age of 12 - have HIV or AIDS, a total that far surpasses the threshold that constitutes a “generalized and severe” epidemic. "Our rates are higher than West Africa," said Shannon L. Hader, director of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, to the Washington Post. "They're on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya." "We have every mode of transmission" -- men having sex with men, heterosexual and injected drug use -- "going up, all on the rise, and we have to deal with them," Hader said. The latest report found a 22 percent increase in HIV and AIDS cases from the 12,428 reported at the end of 2006, with new cases touching every race and sex across population and neighborhood. Men having sex with men was the chief mode of transmission for white residents, 78 percent; and Latinos, 49 percent. More than three-quarters -- 76 percent -- of the HIV infected are black, 70 percent are men and 70 percent are age 40 and older. Heterosexual sex is the principal mode of transmission for blacks.   "This is very, very depressing news, especially considering HIV's profound impact on minority communities," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health's program on infectious diseases. "And remember: The city's numbers are just based on people who've gotten tested." Experts say the actual number of infected persons is likely to be much higher. © All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly/Women of Grace. http://www.womenofgrace.com

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