Posted on June 22, 2012

HIV Crisis Hitting African American Women as Infection Rate in Washington DC Doubles

Christine Show, Daily Mail (London), June 21, 2012

HIV infections are on the rise among heterosexual, African-American women with rates of the disease higher in areas of poverty.

The cases of HIV have dramatically grown in Washington, DC with rates doubling to 12 per cent, it has been revealed.

In a study conducted by DC health officials, the 482 people surveyed with HIV were mostly African-American, more than half had incomes of less than $10,000 and 37 per cent were unemployed, news outlets reported.

There are nearly 15,000 people over the age of 12 living in DC with HIV or AIDS, The Washington Post reported.

That is the highest level – at 2.7 per cent – for any city in the United States.

Michael Rhein, senior vice president at the Institute for Public Health Innovation, told the Post that the rates reflect a larger concern.

He said it’s ‘a true increase in the HIV rate among heterosexuals and women living in areas of concentrated poverty.’

Most cities have large concentrations of HIV cases within groups of men who have sex with men and intravenous drug users.

In DC, however, the cases usually involve heterosexual women who are black.

Black women make up 90 per cent of all female cases of HIV in the city.

It’s likely 20 to 30 per cent may be unaware that they’re even infected.

Greg Pappas, senior director at the DC Health Department, told the Post that that percentage of the infected population ‘is probably walking around infected and don’t know it.’

But more people appear to be getting help sooner in the region.

Roughly 76 per cent of infected got treatment in 2010 within the first three months of diagnosis compared with infected people in 2006.

There was also a drop in the number of new cases in DC.