LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/WPGC) — It’s a devastating statistic. 15,056 residents, or more than two out of every 100 people, in the nation’s capital are living with HIV.
Despite the alarmingly high number of cases in the District, officials say there is cause for optimism. Although the rate of infection far exceeds the national average, the number of new cases is actually on the decline.
A 2013 report by the D.C. Department of Health found the number of new infections and deaths have decreased steadily since 2007.
The number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the city decreased by 46 percent during that time. Officials say the 718 new cases of HIV in 2011 are down significantly from the 1,333 occurrences in 2007.
A similar 47 percent decline was shown in newly diagnosed AIDS cases, which saw a drop from 682 to 363 during the same period.
The city attributes the improving trend to additional support services available to those most at-risk of contracting the virus and treatment options for those already infected.
HIV infections remain particularly prevalent among minorities.
As of 2012, 5.4 percent of all African-American men and 2.3 percent of African-American women living in the District have been diagnosed with the virus. Overall, African-Americans disproportionally account for more than three-quarters of HIV cases in the city.
Among Hispanics, 2.5 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women have received a positive diagnosis.
The study also found same-sex intercourse among males continues to be the leading mode of transmission for HIV in the city. According to the Dept. of Health, 12 percent of gay men are currently HIV positive.
If compared to nations in Africa, PBS reports the District would rank 23rd out of 54 in prevalence of the virus.
More than 1.1 million Americans over the age of 13 are living with HIV, the CDC reports, and one in six are unaware of their infection.