NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 28, 2007

Washington D.C.'s HIV/AIDS epidemic -- an estimated 1-in-20 D.C. residents is HIV positive, and 1 in 50 has AIDS -- is the worst in the nation on a per-capita basis, says the Washington Times.

By comparison:

  • AIDS afflicts nearly twice as many in the nation's capitol as in New York City.
  • It afflicts more than four times as many as in Detroit, and three times as many as in Chicago.


  • Approximately 34.2 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases in the District over the period 2001-06 afflict the 40-to-49 age bracket; persons aged 30-to-39 are a close second at 31.3 percent.
  • Some 81 percent of new HIV cases afflict black D.C. residents (blacks account for 57 percent of the District's population).
  • Sixty-five percent of the District's newly reported HIV/AIDS infections afflict males and 35 percent females, compared to a 2005 national rate of 74 percent male and 26 percent female.

Data on modes of transmission, though self-reported, give further evidence of the epidemic's shift closer to the mainstream:

  • More than a third (37.4) percent, report contracting the virus through heterosexual transmission.
  • That compares with 25.8 percent through homosexual sex -- much lower than 45 percent of AIDS sufferers nationwide whose infections originated via homosexual sex.
  • Some 13.2 percent of the District's newly reported infected victims cite intravenous drug use (compared to 20 percent of national AIDS sufferers).
  • Another 1.9 percent through multiple factors, and 21.8 percent say they do not know.

This last figure suggests the unreliability of the self-reported numbers.  We know far less about the modes of transmission than would be optimal, says the Times.  What the 2001-06 numbers do suggest is that homosexuals and drug users are less the drivers of this epidemic than would be expected.

Source: Editorial, "America's HIV/AIDS capital," Washington Times, November 28, 2007.


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