DCentric » HIV/AIDS http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU HIV Rates Among Black Women In Cities Higher Than Previously Thought http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/hiv-rates-among-black-women-in-cities-higher-than-previously-thought/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/hiv-rates-among-black-women-in-cities-higher-than-previously-thought/#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2012 19:34:38 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15161 Continue reading ]]>

Amanda Richards / Flickr

An HIV test.

Black women in some cities, including D.C., are five times more likely to contract HIV than the average black woman in the United States. That’s according to a recently released study conducted in six cities and funded by the National Institutes for Health.

Researchers focused on six HIV “hotspots:” D.C., Baltimore, New York City, Newark, N.J., Atlanta and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. In these communities, 24 black women in every 10,000 is infected with HIV annually. Nationally, the annual HIV-infection rate is 5 in every 10,000 black women.

The new data, which shows higher infection rates than previously thought, came as a surprise to scientists working in the field, including AIDS experts at Johns Hopkins University who assisted with the study.

“While we have always known that African Americans had a higher risk of HIV infection than other American racial groups, this study confirms it and underscores the severity of the national and local problem, especially in cities,” study site leader and professor Anne Rompalo is quoted as saying in a Johns Hopkins University press release.

More than 3 percent of D.C. residents are living with HIV or AIDS, according to the D.C. Department of Health [PDF]. Rates are highest in Wards 8, 6 and 5. In recent years, much attention in the field has been placed on young black gay and bisexual men, for whom HIV rates are rapidly rising. But this new study shows that infection rates are still high for black women.

The Los Angeles Times cites a number of reasons behind the high infection rate among black women, including a reluctance to get tested because of the stigma associated with having HIV, lacking health insurance and women not putting their own health concerns first.


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Nonprofit Leader Sues D.C., Claims Discrimination http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/nonprofit-leader-sues-d-c-claims-discrimination/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/nonprofit-leader-sues-d-c-claims-discrimination/#comments Fri, 09 Sep 2011 16:37:56 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10403 Continue reading ]]>

Brian Turner / Flickr

The D.C. Attorney General has accused Cornell Jones and his nonprofit of using District HIV/AIDS money to renovate a strip club. But Jones claims it’s a case of racial bias, and now he’s suing the city right back.

Miracle Hands, the nonprofit in question, had plans to renovate a warehouse into a job training center for District residents with HIV/AIDS (the warehouse later became a strip club). Jones’ $2 million suit claims that Miracle Hands used D.C. money to hire an architect to draw up plans for the center and that they hired teachers to run job training classes elsewhere, the Washington City Paper reports:

By 2008, the suit implies, those classes were derailed by racism. Miracle Hands was promised some $500,000 in funding to get their center up and running, but the organization was stiffed when the city rerouted the money to non-blacks.

… If Miracle Hands provided the services it was supposed to, that should be easy enough to prove. The claim that they’ve been victims of discrimination, though, would seem thin, since the Miracle Hands saga played out under two black mayors. That said, a National Institutes of Health study released in August revealed that black scientists weren’t getting their due despite the organization taking pains to avoid discrimination, meaning race bias can be a fickle and complex force.

Jones’ formal claim of discrimination comes after took to his WOL-AM 1450 talk show Saturday to accuse white city leaders of going after him because he’s black. He also used an anti-gay slur in describing two white, openly gay councilmen.


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How Not to Claim Racial Bias http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/how-not-to-claim-racial-bias/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/how-not-to-claim-racial-bias/#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2011 17:43:26 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10258 Continue reading ]]>

Courtesy of Armando Trull / WAMU

Cornell Jones is accused of using HIV/AIDS money to renovate Stadium, a D.C. strip club.

The nonprofit leader accused of using D.C. HIV/AIDS funding to renovate a strip club has claimed racial bias is the reason behind the probe. And then he went on to use an anti-gay slur against city leaders.

Cornell Jones, who is black and runs a nonprofit under investigation by the D.C. Attorney General, made the remarks during his WOL-AM 1450 Saturday radio talk show, The Washington Times reports. He said the investigation is the result of racial bias from white city leaders and then described two white and openly gay D.C. Councilmen — David Catania (At-Large) and Jim Graham (Ward 1) –  as “a couple of gay guys who sometimes get to acting like little faggots.” Councilman Catania urged the attorney general to launch the probe, and Councilman Graham has been vocal about his outrage over the findings, the Times reports.

Some have taken to Twitter to urge people to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission over Jones’ use of the slur on air.

Jones, a self-described former drug kingpin, runs the nonprofit Miracle Hands. A lawsuit brought by the D.C. Attorney General alleges Jones’ nonprofit was given about $330,000 in public money intended to renovate a Northeast warehouse into a job training facility for District residents with HIV/AIDS. The suit claims Jones used the funds to build out Stadium, a strip club that shares an address with the Miracle Hands.


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Five Factors Behind the ‘Alarming’ HIV Infection Rate for Young Black Gay and Bisexual Men http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/five-factors-behind-the-alarming-hiv-infection-rate-for-young-black-gay-and-bisexual-men/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/five-factors-behind-the-alarming-hiv-infection-rate-for-young-black-gay-and-bisexual-men/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 16:56:44 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9748 Continue reading ]]>

Stephen Chernin / Getty Images

A young man inserts the Rapid HIV test swab into its tube.

The HIV infection rate for young black men who have sex with men is growing at an “alarming” rate.

That’s according to a report released this month by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC studied HIV infection rates from 2006 to 2009, and found that the rate increased by 48 percent for 13 to 29 year-old black men who have sex with men. Meanwhile, infection rates have remained relatively stable for all other groups.

Healthcare providers and organizers in D.C., where 3 percent of the population has HIV/AIDS, are seeing the trend. Justin Goforth is the director of community health at Whitman-Walker Health, a center offering medical, counseling and legal services to D.C.’s LGBT community.

“This is who we see come in every day that’s testing positive: young black gay men,” Goforth says.

Below are five factors contributing to higher infection rate among this group:

Most first sexual encounters are with older men

According to a D.C. and George Washington University study, the District’s young black gay men tend to have their first sexual encounters with “significantly” older men, who are the most likely group to already be infected with HIV — 31 percent of men of color over the age of 30 have the disease. Young white gay men, however, tend to have their first sexual encounters with other young men, who are less likely to be infected.

Older men tend to have resources and be established because they have finished school and have jobs, Goforth explains. Young men, however, are on much shakier ground, particularly if their families or communities have shunned them.

“The power dynamic is not with the young one to say, ‘Let’s use condoms,’ because the older man has the resources the young man needs,” Goforth says.

Discovering HIV-status and committing to care

Getting young black gay men to get HIV-tested is only half the battle; health workers also struggle with ensuring young men continue to get tested. The D.C. Department of Health recommends being tested twice a year. And then there’s getting those who do test positive stay on treatment plans, which can be a challenge for many young black gay men, Goforth says.

“They’ll come to a couple of appointments, maybe get started on meds, and then maybe we won’t see them for 10 months,” he says. “Then they’ll come back and say, ‘I didn’t want to deal with this. I didn’t take meds.’”

In response to treating “our most fragile clients with HIV,” Whitman-Walker Health has started a mentorship program called +1. Clients are matched with mentors in the same demographic group, and the pairs meet weekly outside of the clinic.


Homophobia, still an issue for society at large, creates unique challenges within the black community, where institutions such as the church are so important. Many young black gay clients are hesitant to come to the clinic or get tested because of the social implications; some fear being shunned in their communities or families.

Goforth relates the story of a young black teen he took under foster care, who tested positive for HIV at 16. A month later, his mother died. His grandparents rejected taking care of the teen because he was gay. Meanwhile, his HIV-infected sister, who was a drug addict, “is very welcome in their home,” Godforth says.

Despite the challenges, in the past couple of years Goforth has seen “a dedicated upswing in how the black churches want to be a part of this.”

“The black churches have really started to reach out to places like Whitman-Walker, saying ‘how can we help?’” he says. “That really should have been happening for 30 years, but I think that’s going to be a big game-changer.”

Historical healthcare disparities

There are documented disparities in healthcare for minority groups — racial minorities have poorer health and consistently get lower-quality treatment. This, and a history of medical experimentation on black people, has lead to distrust of the healthcare establishment among some in the black community.

“We need to work on better quality and access, and then we have to educate a whole community of people on what it means to access healthcare,” Goforth says.

D.C. is a small city

D.C. isn’t a large city, with a population of about 600,000 people. But it can feel even smaller when folks stay within their neighborhoods or social circles.

“If you have created the perfect storm for HIV and you’re in a very small, confined community, then the prevalence of HIV gets so high in that community that it almost becomes inevitable” for the rate to get so high, Goforth says. “… Everybody is one or two people removed from the person they date.”


Us Helping Us, People Into Living: A D.C. organization providing case management and counseling to black gay men.

Where to get free condoms in D.C.

Information on HIV treatment for all, even the uninsured.

 Whitman-Walker Health programs .


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In D.C., AIDS Rate for Women is 12x National Average http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/in-d-c-aids-rate-for-women-is-12x-national-average/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/03/in-d-c-aids-rate-for-women-is-12x-national-average/#comments Thu, 10 Mar 2011 17:25:47 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=4648 Continue reading ]]>


According to the president of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, Nicky Goren, Washington, D.C. “has an AIDS rate for women that is 12 times the national average and rivals sub-Saharan African countries“. That’s a sobering statistic to contemplate on National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Why have a day devoted to Women and girls? Because:

HIV/AIDS is a serious public health issue affecting nearly 280,000 women in the United States. While men account for most HIV/AIDS cases, the impact on women is growing. In addition, research shows that, when compared to men, women face gaps in access and care.

In D.C., The Women’s Collective, a local nonprofit that serves women who are either living with or at-risk for HIV/AIDS, is hosting two events, one of which is going on right now:

Women Raising Awareness Event 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Women’s Collective– 1331 Rhode Island Ave., NE
Activities include Medicaid enrollment, free HIV testing and a Safer Sex in the City party.

The Positive Ladies Soccer Club film screening and discussion 6 to 9 p.m.
National Press Club – 529 14 th Street, NW
In partnership with the NAACP and the National Council of Negro Women

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“Stigma kills people and spreads HIV” http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/stigma-kills-people-and-spreads-hiv/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2010/11/stigma-kills-people-and-spreads-hiv/#comments Tue, 30 Nov 2010 21:20:48 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=2360 Continue reading ]]>

Trygve.u/Armenian Red Cross Youth

In case you missed it, here’s a must-read interview from WAMU about how powerful the stigma attached to HIV and AIDS is. This story is heartbreaking:

Dr. Sohail Rana is a member of Howard University’s Department of Pediatrics. As Washington, D.C., tries to reduce the incidence of HIV, Rana asks, “Is the stigma associated with HIV now worse than the disease itself?”:

Angel died last Saturday. She was 18. I was her doctor since she was four.

She used to call me Dad.

Technically, Angel died of an AIDS-related illness. The truth is, Angel died from the stigma related to HIV.

Angel contracted the disease at birth from her mother. With today’s medicine, she could have lived a long, productive life.

But many people, including her family members, made her feel dirty because of HIV. She felt rejected.

In shame, she refused to take her medication. Consequently, her HIV progressed to AIDS. The untreated AIDS led to her death.

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