Washington DC: Highest AIDS rate in the US

According to a recent report cited in a recent New York Times piece by Gardiner Harris, Washington DC has the highest AIDS rate in the United States with approximately 1 in 50 residents testing positive for HIV. There are several alarming issues here – one being that the number of children who have tested positive for HIV makes up 6% of all pediatric HIV cases in the country. Now, if HIV were evenly distributed throughout the United States, then each state (and DC) would be expected to have roughly 2% of cases, depending on how many children were actually in the state. DC would probably be expected to have closer to 1% of pediatric HIV cases given that it has fewer residents than, say, Texas, California or New York who have more people, more children and thus the potential for a higher rate of pediatric HIV cases.

But DC has 6% of all children diagnosed with HIV? And nearly all were infected at birth meaning that these cases of HIV were largely preventable

This report about the state of HIV/AIDS in DC also reflects other trends going on in the United States – namely, that infections about black women and men continue to disproportionately rise. And though HIV commonly spread through heterosexual sexual contact, same-sex sexual contact remained a frequent mode of transmission.

The messages remain the same. To reduce your risk of acquiring HIV:

1. Limit your number of sexual partners.
2. Use a condom correctly and consistently every single time that you have sex (even if you are sticking it in or having it stuck in a mouth, vagina or anus "for just a minute"). To learn more about correct condom use, visit this web site.
3. Talk honestly with your partner(s) about your sexual history and their sexual history.
4. Get tested for HIV and other sexually transmissible infections (STI). To find testing sites near you, contact your county, city or state health department or visit this web site.

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.