(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, on National HIV Testing Day, Mayor Bowser released the District’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration (HAHSTA) annual report and highlighted DC’s progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC. The report shows that for the ninth year in a row, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Washington, DC decreased. The Mayor was joined at the release by the Director of the Department of Health LaQuandra Nesbitt, Executive Director of Whitman-Walker Health Don Blanchon, and community members.
“For nine consecutive years, the District has been able to work together with the community to decrease the number of new HIV cases. We know we have more work to do, but this data is good news for our city and our residents,” said Mayor Bowser. “In just one decade, we have made tremendous progress, and today, our residents who are diagnosed with HIV are getting care faster and they are starting – and staying on – treatments that we know are effective.”
In 2016, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Washington, DC decreased to 347, a 52 percent decrease from 720 cases in 2011 and a 73 percent decrease from 1,333 cases in 2007. In just under a decade, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injection drug use decreased by 95 percent from 149 cases in 2007, prior to the scale up of DC’s needle exchange program, to 7 cases in 2016. Currently, 12,964 DC residents or 1.9 percent of the population is living with HIV.
The Mayor also joined community members and District health experts in supporting a consensus statement around an evidence-based approach to interrupting HIV transmission called “treatment as prevention.” To support the approach, the District will participate in the online campaign #UequalsU, which stands for “undetectable equals untransmittable.” #UequalsU is a worldwide effort led by the U.S.-based Prevention Access Campaign to promote Antiretroviral Therapy (ART). The campaign is based on evidence that the risk of transmission for a person with HIV who is on ART and achieves an undetectable viral load in their blood for at least six months is negligible to non-existent. The evidence comes out of a National Institute of Health-funded study known as HPTN 052 that examined participants at 13 sites in nine countries.
“Spreading the word about the success of HIV treatment is one way to encourage our residents with the virus to stay on their medications,” said Dr. Nesbitt. “Our HIV positive residents now have the same opportunity as anyone else to live full and healthy lives, and they play a critical role in ending this epidemic once and for all.”
In December, Mayor Bowser released the 90/90/90/50 plan, the District’s plan for ending the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC by 2020.
The full HAHSTA Annual Report can be found at doh.dc.gov/publication/2017-hahsta-annual-reports.