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Report: D.C. slows fight against AIDS

The District of Columbia’s HIV/AIDS numbers are not looking good, and the city’s efforts to fight the rate of infection are even worse, according to a report to be released Tuesday, detailed this morning by The Washington Post. About 3 percent of D.C. residents have HIV or AIDS, the highest prevalence rate for any U.S. city.

The daily quotes from the report demonstrating how D.C.’s efforts to combat AIDS have slowed for the first time since 2005, while nonprofit DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice says the city has been doing poorly at illness-data tracking and managing grants to AIDS-aid groups. Last month PreventionWorks!, the district’s largest supplier of clean needles for more than 12 years, closed down, due to delays in city funds, dwindling private donations and a high turnover rate of managers, according to the Post.

A closing statement from the DC Appleseed board of directors said:

“Washington, DC has the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country with an estimated 1 in 20 residents living with HIV. The CDC estimates that injection drug use has directly and indirectly accounted for more than one-third of AIDS cases in the United States. Over the past decade, PreventionWorks! has evolved from a needle exchange organization into a critical part of the District of Columbia’s HIV prevention strategy.”

According to the Post, DC Appleseed blames former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty for dropping the ball toward the end of his term and tasks Mayor Vincent C. Gray with resuming the fight against AIDS. The mayor is scheduled to hold a news conference today before the 27-member commission on HIV/AIDS-prevention he appointed two weeks ago, of which he is also the chair.

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