Articles, Blog

Addressing the HIV Epidemic in DC

December 13, 2019

A decade ago, three percent of the population in Washington, D.C. was living with HIV – a rate comparable to areas in west Africa. [Music] In recent years, the nation’s capital has
made enormous strides in addressing its HIV epidemic. The improvement is thanks to collaborations between the government, academia, and local community. In 2008, the National Institutes of Health
and DC Department of Health formed the DC Partnership for HIV/AIDS Progress. Two years later, NIH funded a Center for AIDS Research, or CFAR, in the nation’s capital. “Our mission is very locally driven. It’s to support research that contributes to ending the HIV epidemic in Washington DC—and beyond— in partnership with government and community.” Washington D.C. is among the geographic areas targeted by the initiative to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030. The nationwide network of CFARs will play a key role in this initiative by evaluating best practices to implement HIV treatment and prevention tools. “Implementation science, rather than being I think the discovery of new interventions, is the discovery of how to take proven interventions and roll them out into the communities.” To develop such strategies, the CFARs work closely with local partners. In DC, the Department of Health is officially part of the CFAR. A community advisory board provides feedback on ongoing studies and new proposals. The CFARs also provide expertise, resources and services to help support scientists in their HIV research projects. For example, the DC CFAR facilitates HIV prevention clinical trials in the District. “Over the years, we’ve received a lot of
support, guidance, mentorship from the CFAR to help us with recruitment issues, strategies for engagement into the community, and things like that.” The DC Center For AIDS Research also provides laboratory services to local NIH-funded HIV investigators, such as viral genetic sequencing to help detect and track drug-resistant HIV variants. “The research we’ve contributed and the technical assistance we’ve contributed have seen a 72% reduction over the past 10 years. We’re now at about 350 newly diagnosed cases a year. But of course, 350 cases is still about one a day…. So just think, in the nation’s capital we’re
still having one person diagnosed with HIV every day. So, there’s a long way to go.”

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