The statistics never fail to shock. As of this time last year, 3.2% of the Washington D.C. population was HIV positive. This number is higher than five PEPFAR nations. Put another way, if Washington were an African country it would rank 23rd out of 54 states for its HIV infection rate. Now a new interactive map put out by the advocacy group AIDSVu, glaringly shows just how prevalent HIV is in the District, regardless of neighborhood. Below is the map showing HIV infection in Washington:
You’ll notice that even the healthiest neighborhoods in Northwest D.C., HIV is still more prevalent than you would expect. Compare this map to the same one of New York City, and it’s clear that in our fair city, unlike NYC, HIV infection does not discriminate by neighborhood.
While it’s apparent that no neighborhood in the District remains unaffected by HIV, the statistics do show a very specific demographic that suffers the most. When the map is altered to show just Whites versus just Blacks, the difference is striking.
You’ll notice from these maps that the neighborhoods that are predominately African American suffer much higher HIV infection rates than the predominately white areas of the city. Furthermore, the most white neighborhoods (again, looking at regions in Northwest D.C.) among the white population have little to no cases of HIV.
Another jarring factor, which should come as no surprise is the link to HIV and poverty. Disenfranchised groups living in poverty are less likely to receive the education necessary to prevent the spread of HIV through sexual contact. These populations are also more likely to be affected by intravenous drug use, another source for the spread of HIV. The map below shows a side by side comparision of HIV infection in Washington and the median income levels of the city.
The maps are based on CDC data for people aged 13 and older who had an HIV diagnosis as of December 2010. Sadly, the picture they paint do not take into account the large portion of the American population that remains diagnosed. It is estimated that of the 1,148,200 individuals across the nation living with HIV in 2009, a full 207,600 didn’t know they had it. The only moral of this story is that knowledge is power. Be tested early and be tested often, and use a condom every-time you have sex. These tips may seem obvious to some, but clearly from the statistics, it is a point worth reminding.