International AIDS Society

HIV Rate Jumps From 5% to 8% in Heterosexuals: Washington, DC

Author: Mark Mascolini

25 June 2012

HIV prevalence rose from 5.2% in 2008 to 8% in 2010 among heterosexuals tested in two areas of Washington, DC, the US capital, according to a Washington Post report of DC Department of Health data. The HIV rate doubled in heterosexual women living in these largely African-American parts of the city.

Although overall HIV prevalence for that period fell from 3.2% to 2.7% in Washington, DC, that still left the city well above the World Health Organization 1% cutoff designating an HIV epidemic.

Officials said the rising HIV prevalence among heterosexual women and men reflects wider testing of people who did not know their HIV status. But they added that the jump could also reflect “still-rising rates of new infections.”

The overall HIV rate among heterosexuals tested climbed from 5.2% in 2008 to 8% in 2010. For that period HIV prevalence rose from 6.3% to 12.1% in heterosexual women and from 3.9% to 4.4% in heterosexual men.

In response to the findings, health officials released new recommendations for clinicians to start antiretroviral therapy immediately for people diagnosed with HIV rather than waiting for their CD4 count to fall to a certain level.

The HIV prevalence survey focused on heterosexuals in two city districts, almost all of them black, 62% making less than $10,000 a year, and 37% unemployed.

The capital city has improved the proportion of people linked to HIV care within 3 months of diagnosis from 58% in 2006 to 76.1% in 2010.

Officials estimate that 20% to 30% of HIV-positive people in Washington, DC remain unaware of their infection.

Washington, DC will host the International AIDS Conference on July 22-27. For more information on the conference, click on the link below.

Source: Lena H. Sun. HIV infection rate skyrockets among some D.C. women. Washington Post. 20 June 2012.

For the Washington Post report

For the 2012 International AIDS Conference site