Today marks National HIV Testing Day and, as the Post reported last night, “DC clinics and health groups have organized testing sites across the city and hope to reach out to a large swath of the community. encourages people to get tested in an effort to help identify those who have the disease so they can receive treatment and prevent transmission.”
A June 15 Post article pointed out that, while the number of new cases has dropped significantly (nearly 50%) in the past two years, “the number of District residents living with HIV or AIDS remains high enough to rate as an epidemic.” A recent survey by the Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “more than a third of city residents single out HIV/AIDS — first identified 30 years ago — as the city’s biggest health concern.” And with reason. More than 3% of DC residents over the age of 12 are HIV positive and well over half of the population “say someone they know has the disease or has died of it,” compared to 41% nationwide.
Whitman-Walker Health has offered testing around the city for the past week and will offer extended testing hours tomorrow, from 9 AM to 7 PM. Says Dr. Raymond Martins, chief medical officer at Whitman-Walker: “Last week’s report from the DC Department of Health showed that more than three percent of adults in DC have been diagnosed with HIV. However, an additional two-three percent may also be infected but hasn’t been diagnosed. That is why it’s so important.”
Catalogue non-profit Metro TeenAIDS also offers testing all week (at a range of hours) at at 651 Pennsylvania Avenue SE. MTA works to prevent the spread of HIV through youth leadership teams and in-school health education — because knowledge is one of the best ways to ensure that the number of new cases keeps on dropping.