Washington, D.C., Makes Improvements on HIV/AIDS Efforts, but More Work to Be Done, Report Finds; District Expands STD Testing Pilot Program for Students
The fifth annual report card from the Washington, D.C.,-based Appleseed Center for Law and Justice examining the district's response to HIV gives the city "high marks for rapid testing, interagency coordination, surveillance and fighting the disease in the D.C. Jail," but finds that the city falls short in other areas, the Washington Examiner reports (Neibauer, 8/5). "The government also received above-average grades for leadership, managing grants to groups that help people with the illness, and monitoring the effectiveness of those programs," the Washington Post reports. However, "While Mayor Fenty and his administration deserve recognition for the continued support of ... numerous [HIV/AIDS Administration] initiatives, his public appearances and statements about the epidemic have fallen short of his enthusiasm for action inside the government," the report said. The report added that the district could do more to address HIV and recommended that HAA assess whether the improvements they have made are reducing the spread of the virus, the Post reports (Fears, 8/5).
In related news, district officials are expanding a pilot program to all high schools in the coming year that offers tests for sexually transmitted diseases to students, the Post reports. The program began last year at eight local high schools and "found that 13 percent of about 3,000 students tested positive for an STD, mostly gonorrhea or chlamydia, according to the D.C. Department of Health," the article states. Walter Smith, executive director of the D.C. Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, said, "If 13 percent of these students are testing positive for STDs, those same kids could get HIV. A lot needs to be done to get the message out to the schools." The program was praised in D.C. Appleseed's report released today on the district's HIV/AIDS response (Fears/Hernandez, 8/5).