WASHINGTON – The World AIDS Conference opens Sunday in D.C., where HIV/AIDS is an epidemic.
A new, independent study says the District is making progress combating the virus, but not nearly enough.
The research was done by the advocacy group D.C. Appleseed, with cooperation from the city government and local non-profits.
Appleseed has been issuing an annual “report card” on HIV/AIDS in D.C. since 2005.
“A lot of good stuff is being done, but there can be no debate the numbers that we are looking at are not where they need to be,” says Walter Smith, Appleseed’s executive director.
The most recent report card gives D.C. an average grade of B-plus in 12 areas ranging from HIV surveillance and testing to condom distribution.
D.C. officials say they are working hard, but acknowledge much more needs to be done.
Dr. Gregory Pappas, who is leading the city’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, says part of the problem is mindset.
There are plenty of testing and treatment services available in D.C., Pappas says. But complacency and denial are keeping some from taking steps to prevent and treat the disease
Some don’t get tested because they think it can’t happen to them, he says. Others, who have multiple partners, refuse to use condoms because new anti-AIDS drugs are available. And, too many District residents with the HIV virus don’t take their medications because they don’t feel sick, Pappas says.