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Of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006, 37 percent were spread through heterosexual

Of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006, 37 percent were spread through heterosexual sex, compared with 25 percent attributable to men having sex with men. The study also showed the stark impact on the African American community, where more than 80 percent of the new cases were identified.

Almost 12,500 people in the District were known to have HIV or AIDS in 2006, the report said.

Increasing Giveaway Of Condoms Also Part of D.C. Strategy

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; B01

 

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration pledged yesterday to triple the number of free condoms being distributed by the D.C. government within a year and to work with city hospitals to increase HIV testing

in emergency rooms.

The plans were announced as the administration released a report that called HIV-AIDS a "modern epidemic" in the District and showed that the condition, once considered a gay disease, has spread to the general population.

Of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006, 37 percent were spread through heterosexual sex, compared with 25 percent attributable to men having sex with men. The study also showed the stark impact on the African American community, where more than 80 percent of the new cases were identified.

Almost 12,500 people in the District were known to have HIV or AIDS in 2006, the report said.

Shannon Hader, who directs the city's HIV/AIDS Administration, said the government will ramp up several initiatives that began before she arrived in October. Among her goals is tripling the number of free condoms distributed by the city, to 3 million, by 2009 to help prevent the spread of cases.

She also wants to "challenge" all hospital emergency rooms to offer "rapid HIV testing" to help diagnose the disease in earlier stages.

Currently, only George Washington University Medical Center and Howard University Hospital offer emergency-room testing, Hader said.

A third focus area, she said, is to work with the city's seven birthing centers to implement guidelines, outreach and testing to help prevent the spread of HIV-AIDS from mothers to their babies. In the past five years, 56 children were born with some form of the disease, the report found.

"These things have already been started, but we want to use the report to build on them," Hader said. "We're using all the tools in the tool kit, and we're also looking at all of our tool kits, figuring out where there are gaps."

Ron Daniels, who runs a needle exchange program for Prevention Works!, said yesterday that he has been encouraged by Hader's approach to the job. She is the third director since 2004.

"She has acknowledged that you must fight the disease from all areas, not just one area," Daniels said. "That is a start. Prior administrations focused on one or two areas, and it was not going to make a dent in this."

Hader said she does not expect to ask the mayor for increased funding in the coming year but acknowledged that, if she is successful in increasing early testing and getting people into treatment, the programs could become more costly.

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