D.C. saw a 16% drop in the number of new HIV cases in 2019, according to a report released Thursday. But there are concerns not enough people are getting tested.
The number of new cases declined from 335 in 2018, to 282 in 2019.
In addition, D.C. said that among those newly diagnosed with the virus, 59% of cases were virally suppressed within 90 days, meaning they could not spread it.
“We’ve made good progress,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference.
According to D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt, the city has made “substantial progress since one of our critical bench mark years, 2007, where we’ve seen a 79% decline in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the District.”
Nesbitt said D.C. has hit another big bench mark as well, thanks to needle exchange and syringe services programs: a 99% reduction in the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases that are attributable to injection drug use.
“That is a significant achievement,” Nesbitt said. “And so, it should not be understated, the impact that needle exchange programs and syringe services programs can have on reducing the transmission of HIV in communities.”
Bowser’s situation report comes with a word of caution, however: Not enough people are getting on HIV treatment soon to attain viral suppression. And the novel coronavirus could be to blame.
Health care providers are reporting regular appointments are down more than 60% from last year, Nesbitt said, due to patients taking coronavirus precautions.
To combat the potential for the coronavirus to impact HIV cases in the city, D.C. Health offers a test you can take at home to know your status. More information can be found at GetCheckedDC.org.
Residents were urged to visit linkudmv.org for information and services.
Data on the decline can be found in D.C.’s Annual Epidemiology & Surveillance Report.
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COVID at child care facilities
Nesbitt said that COVID-19 has been found at more than one child care facility in D.C.
Asked about the virus being found at a Brookland facility, Nesbitt said, “It is not the only facility in the city where we have had a case of COVID-19.”
She did not say how many facilities D.C. had found the virus at.
“Every case we deal with on a case-by-case basis, and we do a notification,” Nesbitt said.
“The public should have a reasonable expectation, given the pathology of this virus, that if one case is identified, and people have to quarantine, that there can be additional cases related to that one single case.”
Nesbitt also stressed the importance of providing child care for D.C.’s essential workers, adding that the city’s investigative teams work with child care facilities to ensure they remain open safely.
“Given the number of child care facilities that we have in the District, given how critically important it is for child care facilities to be open and operational, so that our members who are residents and others who work in the District for critical infrastructure, first responders, health care workers, educators, people who work in our food retail industry, the guidelines that we have are appropriate for those child care facilities to operate,” Nesbitt said.
DC coronavirus numbers
The District reported 55 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the total to 13,409.
In addition, another D.C. resident died. The death toll stands at 601.
Track the District’s coronavirus data online.
Below are maps of coronavirus cases by ward, neighborhood and community spread (click to enlarge).
WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.