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Fewer new HIV cases, but an epidemic remains

Substance abuse treatment and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment information, with a container of clean syringes and other medical supplies are on display at a table inside the immunization office in a "one-stop shop." (AP Photo/News and Tribune, Tyler Stewart)

WASHINGTON — The number of new HIV cases has declined the past six years, but the District’s infection rate is still epidemic, according to the World Health Organization.

In 2013, there were 553 new cases, a 40 percent drop from 2009.

Still, there are 16,423 residents — or 2.5 percent of the city’s population — living with HIV, according to the annual Epidemiology and Surveillance Report.

The biggest drop comes from HIV cases attributable to injection drug use. Men who have sex with men remain the leading group diagnosed with HIV.

“The highest proportion of new HIV cases by age has shifted to younger persons from 20 [to] 29 years old,” says LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the District Department of Health.

By groups, African Americans and men make up just less than half the population, respectively. But each group, on its own, accounts for about three-quarters of all cases.

D.C. leaders have set a goal of cutting new cases by half in the next five years.

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