(Washington, DC) – Today, on National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health released the annual HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis Surveillance Report for the District of Columbia. The report demonstrates progress in the District’s efforts to end the HIV epidemic, including improvements in the HIV care continuum and continued partnerships with community partners to scale up programs that reduce the impact of HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis (TB) on residents.
“Progress in science and health have provided us the tools we need to end the HIV epidemic, and we are focused on making sure Washingtonians know where and how they can access the resources and treatment they need to live healthy lives,” said Mayor Bowser. “DC Health has worked with community organizations and health care providers to make testing, including free at-home testing, widely available. Just last year, we launched a new 24/7 hotline so that people who may have been exposed to HIV can get information about accessing PEP. And we will continue putting these tools in place and making sure people know about them so that we can prevent new HIV cases, help more people reach viral suppression, and crush this epidemic.”
Over the past two years, DC Health has launched a number of programs to reduce barriers to HIV testing and treatment, including:
- In 2020, DC Health began making free rapid HIV test kits available. Residents can get information and order a test for mailing to their DC address at GetCheckedDC.org.
- In 2021, DC Health launched the District’s Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) Hotline, a resource for people who may have been exposed to HIV. PEP is emergency medication taken to prevent HIV and has to be started within 72 hours of a possible exposure. The DC PEP Hotline is open 24 hours a day/7 days a week, and can be reached by calling (202) 299-3PEP (3737). More information is available at GetPEPDC.org.
The key data in this year’s report includes:
- The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the District decreased to 217 cases in 2020, a decline of 23% from 282 cases in 2019 and 85% from the peak of 1,374 cases in 2007.
- There were zero babies born with HIV in 2020, a decline from two babies born with HIV in 2019.
- The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injection drug use decreased by 99% from 150 cases in 2007, prior to the scale up of DC’s needle exchange program, to 1 cases in 2020.
- 12,161 current residents in the District, or 1.7% of the population, are living with HIV; Black and Latino residents with HIV exceeded their respective populations, with Black residents disproportionately impacted at 2.8%.
- There were 5,956 cases of chlamydia, 3,593 cases of gonorrhea, and 234 cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported in 2020.
- There were 874 people with newly reported hepatitis C in 2020.
“DC Health remains committed to ending the HIV epidemic even while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, DC Health Director. “By providing residents with access to testing, medical treatments such as PrEP and Rapid ART, as well as harm reduction and wellness services, we can stop the spread of HIV.”
DC Health tracks the District’s efforts to improve the care continuum for people living with HIV to sustain their health from diagnosis to linkage and retention in care. 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. Among people newly diagnosed with HIV, 58% were linked to medical care within 7 days of diagnosis and 80% within 30 days.
Among people newly diagnosed with HIV, 49% were virally suppressed within 90 days. This is a decrease since 2019, indicating that not enough people are getting on HIV treatment timely to attain viral suppression. Residents can visit LinkUDMV.org, an online directory to help people find a full range of services offered by medical and community providers, including health, sexual health, food/nutrition, housing, transportation, financial assistance, education, and employment in the Metropolitan area. Residents can also get free, at-home HIV test kits through GetCheckedDC.org.
For information on the District’s plan to end the HIV epidemic, please visit DCEndsHIV.org.