A report released recently by the D.C. Department of Public Health stated that the HIV infection rates among D.C. residents dropped to 2.7 percent in 2010 from 3.2 percent in 2008.
This represents a dramatic decrease in the HIV infection rate, but the rate in the District is still above that of any state in the union and still qualifies as an epidemic based on the threshold established by the World Health Organization.
That said, progress is progress. It will take a collective effort at raising awareness, increasing education and testing to reduce the infection rate in the city. That collective effort does seem to be taking shape.
Kudos go out to the District of Columbia for its efforts to ramp up testing for HIV among its residents and city employees. The District announced that its employees would be allowed two hours of paid leave to attend HIV awareness training and to get tested.
Adding to the District's efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the launch of a $1.2 million program that will offer free rapid HIV tests at drug stores in 24 cities, including Washington, D.C. Currently, there are two Walgreens locations in the District that are offering these free tests:
1217 22nd Street, NW
1325 14th Street, NW
And then we have the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Ward 5, who a few Sundays ago as a part of Plymouth's Love in Action HIV & AIDS Ministry, HIV tests were made available to its congregation, during the service, no less. This effort, staged by such a powerfully influential part of the fabric of the community can not be taken lightly. It was a powerful statement.
An estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of HIV-positive residents do not know they are infected. Testing is the first step to getting those D.C. residents that are infected into the District's free health care and medicine programs. Further success will only come from a continued group effort.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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