Thursday, December 1, 2022
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, in observance of World AIDS Day, DC Health highlights the District’s efforts to ending the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC. DC Health is committed to improving the care continuum for people living with HIV to sustain their health from diagnosis to linkage and retention in care and tracks the District’s efforts to do so. The care continuum measures people linked to care, engaged in care, and with viral load suppression. People achieving viral suppression maintain strong immune systems, achieve healthier outcomes, and cannot transmit HIV sexually to other people, known as Undetectable equals Untransmittable or U=U.
“Far too often stigma is one of the biggest barriers that those living with HIV face,” says Dr. Sharon Lewis, Interim Director at DC Health. “With access to care and treatment, people living with HIV can live long and healthy lives, however stigma prevents people from getting tested and subsequently treated.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic impacted community health and healthcare services, DC Health kept its commitment to innovative approaches to HIV prevention and treatment. In partnership with community partners, the District Government scaled up programs to reduce the impact of HIV, STIs, hepatitis and TB on residents of Washington, DC. These successes are the most recent achievements by the District:
GetCheckedDC supported 2,041 at-home tests for HIV and STIs and 1,749 walk-in tests at LabCorp for HIV, STIs, and hepatitis.
Prescribed 1,667 people PrEP at the DC Health and Wellness Center from October 1, 2020-September 30, 2021.
Distributed more than 2.1 million male and female condoms in 2021.
Provided HIV medical care and support services to 2,935 people through the Ryan White Program in 2021.
The District is following the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America with a twist. The federal plan follows four pillars: Diagnose, Treat, Prevent and Respond, but the DC Ends HIV plan adds a fifth pillar: Engage. The plan values health equity and recognizes structural barriers, such as racism and stigma, to optimize health outcomes and individual successes by centering people’s life experiences, including social determinants of health.
Building upon the DC Ends HIV plan’s Engage pillar, DC Health has partnered with neighboring jurisdictions to launch a podcast series to encourage the HIV community to share life experiences, discuss resources and get connected to care and treatment when diagnosed. The podcast is expected to debut in early 2023.
For more information on the District’s plan to end the HIV epidemic, visit DCEndsHIV.org.
The District of Columbia Department of Health (DC Health) promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our nation’s capital.