World AIDS Day: A Local Perspective
In honor of World AIDS Day, here are a few ways HIV/AIDS is affecting children and youth in the District.
HIV/AIDS rates for children and youth in DC are relatively low compared to other age groups in the city, but the trends are not comforting. According to two recent reports by the DC Department of Health (links are here and here):
• The number of new HIV/AIDS cases among adolescents doubled between 2005 and 2008.
• In 2007, roughly one out of every 100 young people (ages 13 to 24) in the city was HIV positive or had AIDS.
• Since 1984, youth (under age 25) have represented 5 - 6% of all the reported AIDS cases in the city.
• Nearly one-quarter (23%) of DC residents living with HIV/AIDS in 2009 was under 30 when he or she was diagnosed.
• Latinos are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS younger than other race and ethnic groups in the city. More than one-quarter (26%) of Latinos living with HIV/AIDS in 2009 were diagnosed between the ages of 13 and 29, compared to 18% of blacks and 14% of whites.
In response to these numbers, DC implemented a comprehensive 2007-2010 plan for addressing HIV among youth. The plan included steps for increasing awareness and understanding of the disease and its risk factors (including through social media), expanding access to testing, implementing comprehensive sex education for DC students and ensuring youth who are not in school have access to the same information.
The plan got relatively high marks (a B+) for effectiveness from DC Appleseed in its 2011 HIV in the Nation’s Capital report card, noting the DC had “delivered on most of the goals” in the plan. But the report also recommended that DC strengthen HIV and sexual health education in DC public and charter schools and expand its successful inter-agency youth initiatives occurring outside the school system. DC has made strides in one of these areas by adding health and sex education to the topics tested on statewide-standardized tests.
DC has drafted a second plan (2011-2014), which has not yet been released. Preliminary drafts indicate that the plan will delve deeper into HIV risk issues experienced by different subpopulations, including immigrant and LGBTQ youth. This is a welcome addition.
One question we will be thinking about on World AIDS Day: What can we do to make the District and all of its neighborhoods places where children and youth can grow up to be healthy adults? What are your questions on World AIDS Day?
The Council of DC’s Committee on Health is hosting a number of events today at the John A. Wilson Building (1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW). See the events below or DC Action’s calendar here.
World AIDS Day Events – Thursday, December 1, 2011
Free HIV Testing
From 10:00am-3:00pm, Calvary Health, through their work with the Department of Health, will be providing free HIV testing in their mobile testing unit, which will be located outside the Wilson Building. We encourage all individuals in the District to know their status and get tested for HIV.
Education and Awareness Health Fair
From 11:00am-2:00pm, The Committee on Health will be hosting an education and awareness fair in the Atrium of the Wilson Building. A number of community-based organizations, advocacy groups, and providers will be on hand to provide crucial education materials important to all District residents. At 12:30, there will be short program featuring speeches from Mayor Gray, Chairman Brown, and Councilmember Catania.
AIDS2012 Public Briefing
In just 7 short months, the District of Columbia will be the host city for the bi-annual AIDS2012 conference. Coming to the United States for the first time in 22 years, this conference will bring upwards of 25,000 of the world’s most preeminent scientists, community leaders, and government officials to the District to discuss the newest innovations in the fight against this epidemic.
In preparation for this tremendous event, the head of the local secretariat in charge of organizing this conference will provide a public briefing from 3:30pm-4:30pm in room 123 of the Wilson Building. This briefing will include information on what to expect from this conference, its impact on the city, and ways to be involved during the conference.
Also on Thursday, December 1, 2011 the Committee will be holding two hearings on important HIV/AIDS issues.