(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser recognized World AIDS Day at the World AIDS Day Red Carnation Affair. Attendees learned about DC-based resources and volunteer opportunities to combat HIV/AIDS, participated in informational workshops, and assembled health kits and care packages for residents affected by the HIV epidemic. The event was cohosted by Serve DC, the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the DC Center, the LoveLife Foundation. The Mayor was joined by special guest and three-time Grammy-nominated artist Raheem DeVaughn, founder of the LoveLife Foundation.
“We have made tremendous progress over the past decade in combatting HIV/AIDS. For nine consecutive years, we have been able to decrease the number of new HIV cases in the District, and when residents are diagnosed with HIV, they are getting care faster and they are starting – and staying on – treatments that we know are effective,” said Mayor Bowser. “Now, we need to continue getting the word out about what more can be done. We want all Washingtonians to know how to get tested and how to access the care and resources available to them.”
Last year on World AIDS Day, Mayor Bowser released the 90/90/90/50 plan, the District’s plan for ending the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC by 2020. The 90/90/90/50 plan sets four core goals for the District to reach by 2020:
- 90 percent of DC residents with HIV will know their status;
- 90 percent of DC residents diagnosed with HIV will be in treatment;
- 90 percent of DC residents in treatment will achieve viral load suppression; and
- the District will see an overall 50 percent decrease in new HIV cases.
In June 2017, Mayor Bowser released the District’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration annual report, which highlighted that for the ninth year in a row, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in Washington, DC decreased. In 2016, the number of newly diagnosed cases decreased to 347, a 52 percent decrease from 720 cases in 2011 and a 73 percent decrease from 2007 levels. Moreover, in just under a decade, the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases attributable to injection drug use decreased by 95 percent from 149 cases in 2007, prior to the scale up of DC’s needle exchange program, to 7 cases in 2016. Currently, approximately 13,000 DC residents or 1.9 percent of the population is living with HIV.
“Spreading the word about the success of HIV treatment is one way to encourage our residents with the virus to stay on their medications,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of the DC Department of Health (DOH). “Our HIV positive residents now have the same opportunity as anyone else to live full and healthy lives, and they play a critical role in ending this epidemic once and for all.”
In addition to the four core goals, the 90/90/90/50 plan also bridges the collaborative efforts of DOH, DC Appleseed, and the Washington AIDS Partnership to:
- increase targeted testing to identify new HIV diagnoses more efficiently;
- improve the Red Carpet Entry program to ensure those diagnosed with HIV engage with immediate treatment;
- expand surveillance data to help providers reengage those who are not receiving services;
- engage all relevant District agencies to improve access to housing for those who are living with HIV;
- expand access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) - a drug regimen proven effective in preventing infections among high-risk populations; and
- continue syringe access services and condom distribution.
Today, DC Appleseed released a progress report evaluating the District’s response to the HIV epidemic and found that the city is on course to meet the ambitious goals laid out in the 90/90/90/50 plan. DC Appleseed’s progress report can be found at dcappleseed.org.
“National service and volunteerism are valuable tools to engage and educate residents, and events like today’s World AIDS Day Red Carnation Affair are one way we are moving forward Mayor Bowser’s vision to eradicate the HIV epidemic in Washington, DC,” said Serve DC Director Delano Hunter.