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DC health report: ‘Record’ numbers of chlamydia, gonorrhea; HIV cases flat

FILE - In this May 10, 2012, file photo, a doctor holds Truvada pills at her office in San Francisco. New research shows more promise for using AIDS treatment drugs, such as Truvada, as a prevention tool, to help keep uninfected people from catching HIV during sex with a partner who has the virus. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

WASHINGTON — The number of new HIV diagnoses in D.C. remained essentially flat last year, continuing a decade-long drop from a staggering peak in 2007. But the good news on HIV cases came amid skyrocketing rates of other sexually transmitted infections.

That’s according to a report released Tuesday by the District Department of Health, which noted “record numbers and increases” in case of gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

The number of gonorrhea cases more than doubled since 2013, soaring to 5,070 cases last year, according to the report. About a third of the new cases were young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

The number of chlamydia infections increased 35 percent compared to 2013, according to the report. Last year, there were more than 10,000 cases reported. More than half of those infections — 52 percent — were recorded in patients between the ages of 15 to 24.

The number of syphilis cases increased 13 percent, rising to 318 cases in 2017. Ninety-five percent of the new diagnoses were in men, according to the report.

In a news release, the department said part of the increase in STIs stems from stepped-up screening efforts by health officials.

‘Stable, downward’ trend in new HIV cases

Meanwhile, the number of new HIV diagnoses in 2017 continued a “stable, downward” trend since 2013, according to the report.

In 2017, there were 368 newly diagnosed cases of HIV. That’s down 73 percent from the 1,362 cases in 2007, when HIV rates reached crisis proportions and spurred action by the District government.

There were no babies born with HIV in 2017, thanks to the use of anti-retrovirals during pregnancy, according to the report. And the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributed to injection drugs fell to just 7 cases in 2017, down by 95 percent from 2007, before the District rolled out a needle-exchange program.

Despite overwhelmingly positive news on reducing the number of new HIV cases and increasing the number of people with HIV accessing treatment, the report noted some troubling trends.

The number of HIV diagnoses among young people — from ages 13 to 29 — increased by more than 10 percent last year. Young people now make up 41 percent of new HIV cases, the department said, which is the highest proportion in the last 10 years. There was also an 11 percent increase in HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men and a small increase in the number of Latinos diagnosed with HIV.

Overall, black men who have sex with men and black heterosexual women continue to make up the highest proportion of newly diagnoses HIV cases, the report said.

In total, 13,003 residents of the District were living with HIV in 2017, just under 2 percent of the District’s population.


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