D.C. viewed as world leader in HIV care
In light of the more than 34 million people globally living with HIV, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS is determined to see an end to the disease. The response was repeated by Dr. Paul De Lay, deputy executive director of UNAIDS, the global coordinator of the worldwide HIV response. In the United States, numbers suggest ending AIDS will take a small miracle. In 2009, there were 48,000 new HIV infections in the U.S., and 1.1 million people are living with HIV, according to statistics from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
In Washington, D.C., 2.7 percent of the population is living with the virus, gaining a national reputation as the HIV capital. However, the nation’s capital has also emerged as a leader in implementing HIV strategies and treatments. Local doctors who specialize in HIV treatment have called for an aggressive response to the epidemic, comparable to the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, often referred to as PEPFAR. Mayor Vincent Gray in 2011 initiated a program to offer free HIV tests at a DMV location, as well as at the city’s care services. Of those diagnosed with HIV last year, 89 percent of them used the city’s care services, according to D.C.’s latest epidemiology report. Accroding to experts, the world looks to the United States for new breakthroughs in treatments due to resources that allow programs like D.C.’s to exist. “Also, they look to the United States for diagnostics, laboratory, making delivery to treatments safer and more effective,” Dr. De Lay said. “The U.S. is also seen as the founding of true AIDS activism.”