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HIV Attacking Washington, DC August 25, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in AIDS, African-American, Blacks, Culture, D.C., Government, Life, Medical, Minority Issues, Washington.
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Last year the Washington Post announced that the District of Columbia’s HIV rate has officially reached ‘Modern Epidemic’ numbers. The study revealed that more than 80 percent of recent cases were among black residents.

The first statistics ever amassed on HIV in the District showed that HIV in DC has reached a remarkable size.

The report says:

“The numbers most starkly illustrate HIV’s impact on the African American community. More than 80 percent of the 3,269 HIV cases identified between 2001 and 2006 were among black men, women and adolescents. Among women who tested positive, a rising percentage of local cases, nine of 10 were African American.

The report amasses 120-pages. Prior to this report there has not been a major AIDS update in DC since 2000. HIV has once been considered a gay disease, but has moved into the general population. HIV has spread through heterosexual contact in more than 37 percent of the District’s cases detected in that time period, in contrast to the 25 percent of cases attributable to men having sex with men.

It blows the stereotype out of the water. People now see that in the District of Columbia, HIV is everybody’s disease. The new numbers are a statistical snapshot, not an estimate of the prevalence of infection in the District, which is nearly 60 percent black. One in 20 city residents is thought to have HIV and 1 in 50 residents to have AIDS, the advanced manifestation of the virus.

Almost 12,500 people in the District were known to have HIV or AIDS in 2006, according to the report. Figures suggest that the number of new HIV cases began declining in 2003, but the administration said the drop more likely reflects underreporting or delayed reporting. A quarter-century into the epidemic, the city’s cumulative number of AIDS cases exceeds 17,400.

District health officials have long been faulted for the lack of HIV information and lagging AIDS data. Not until forced by federal funding requirements did the health department start tracking HIV.

Until that began in 2000, critics said, neither the government nor organizations responding to the disease knew whether their dollars and efforts were effectively addressing the problem.

The report notes that its comprehensive picture “offers the District a new tool to help improve the scope, quality and distribution of care and treatment and prevention services.”

HIV information is particularly valuable because it represents the most recent infections and can indicate changes in transmission patterns. It is mainly collected through the investigation of cases forwarded by laboratories and health-care providers.

The compilation signifies a major step forward for the HIV/AIDS agency, which has gone through repeated program and leadership upheavals in recent years. “For us, this is a milestone,” said Hader, its third administrator since 2004.

A letter from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) accompanies the release: “We must take advantage of this information with the sense of urgency that this epidemic deserves.”

The District’s AIDS rate is the worst of any city in the country, nearly twice the rate in New York and more than four times the incidence in Detroit, and it has been climbing faster than that of many jurisdictions.

One explanation might be the high percentage of infected residents labeled “late testers,” people who learn they have AIDS within a year of the HIV diagnosis. Although the proportion of adults and adolescents screened for HIV is greater in the city than nationally, the finding raises questions about the strategy of the District’s “know your status” campaign.

People who learn of their infection late face serious consequences. By the time symptoms arise or infections occur, their immune systems have suffered considerable damage. They face increased medical costs and death rates.

More than two-thirds of local AIDS cases fell into this category during the past decade, according to the report, compared with 39 percent of cases in the United States. I think that’s dramatic information for our care and treatment providers.

No longer is HIV a crisis primarily among younger adults. Starting in 2004, the number of new HIV cases among men and women ages 40 to 49 outpaced every other age group in the city. But the data made public today expose an alarming dimension of pediatric HIV. Each of the three dozen District children to test positive in the past five years was infected during birth.

Many people in the district are pushing for routine HIV testing during pregnancy, quick-results oral swabs during labor and “fast tracking” of the antiretroviral drugs that can prevent transmission during delivery.

The administration said it wants to use the report to begin asking and answering, “What next?” Given the scope of HIV and AIDS in the District, health leaders say they can’t focus on just one aspect of the disease or one at-risk group.

Human Dignity Lecture Set on Sept 11 August 22, 2008

Posted by Reginald Johnson in Culture, D.C., International, Washington.
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The German Historical Institute (GHI) will present the 9th Gerd Bucerius Lecture entitled:  Human Dignity and Freedom of the Press, on September 11th.  September 11th will mark the 7th Anniversity of the 9-11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, DC and a rural field in Pennslyvania.

The lecture will be given by Jutta Limbach.  In a press release by GHI, they had this to say:

“Jutta Limbach will deliver the ninth Gerd Bucerius Lecture of the German Historical Institute.  She will speak on the topic “Human Dignity and Freedom of the Press.” The Gerd Bucerius Lecture series is sponsored by the ZEIT Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius. Professor of civil law at the Free University in Berlin since 1972, Jutta Limbach was Senatorin für Justiz (state attorney general) for Berlin from 1989 to 1994. In 1994 she was appointed to the Bundesverfassungsgericht (Germany’s supreme court), where she served as chief justice
until her retirement in 2002. From 2002 to 2008 she was the President of the Goethe Institut. The lecture will take place at the Willard Hotel, Washington DC. To register for this event please send an e‐mail to events@ghi‐dc.org.”

A dessert reception will preceed this event.  And an introduction  will be given by Prof. Hartmut Berghoff (Director, German Historical Institute) and a welcome will be issued by Dr. Markus Baumanns (Executive Vice President, ZEIT‐Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius)

In order to attend MUST RSVP by September 5th.

By phone: (202) 387‐3355 ‐ fax: (202) 387‐6437 or e‐mail: events@ghi‐dc.org

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