Mayor Bowser and DC Health Highlight Resources for Residents on Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
(Washington, DC) – Today, in observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health are highlighting free resources available to all residents on sexualbeing.org to help prevent HIV/AIDS and provide treatment options that are convenient, confidential, and easy to access.
“On National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, we are reaffirming our commitment to providing residents with the prevention resources and treatment options that they need to get the right care at the right time,” said Mayor Bowser. “We have so many free resources for the community, and we want people to know about them, use them, and feel comfortable reaching out for support.”
First observed in 1999, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day serves as a critical reminder of the importance of addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on Black communities through focused efforts on education, prevention, and equitable access to care. This evening, DC Health is holding an in-person event to raise awareness around HIV treatment and prevention, and all community members are encouraged to attend.
The event will bring residents together to learn more about the impact of HIV/AIDS in the Black community, outreach programs that are available, the role of community partnerships, the latest research and treatment options for HIV/AIDS, and more about Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) medications. Residents can receive free HIV testing onsite through the non-profit organization Us Helping Us, People Into Living Inc. The event will also highlight success stories and strategies that have empowered Black individuals living with HIV/AIDS and debunk myths that typically contribute to stigma and discrimination. Additionally, there will be live music, free food, awards, and a photobooth for residents to enjoy. Details of the event are below:
- When: February 7 @ 6 pm
- Where: Union District Oyster Bar (501 Morse Street NE)
- Register to attend the event HERE.
DC Health is also offering two walk-up testing sites today for residents to receive free and confidential HIV testing. The testing sites will be held at Howard University's Blackburn Center (2397 6th Street NW) between 10:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and University of the District of Columbia's Heritage Hall Student Center (4200 Connecticut Avenue NW) between 9 am - 3 pm.
In addition to the community event that will take place this evening, DC Health also offers a number of free and confidential resources that help individuals know their status, prevent HIV or STIs, or treat HIV. Two important resources residents should know about include:
- Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a free, emergency medication taken to prevent HIV and has to be started within 72 hours of a possible exposure. People who are HIV-negative and think they were exposed to HIV can call the DC PEP Hotline at (202) 299-3PEP (3737) to speak with an expert and caring medical provider. They will then be able to pick up their initial PEP medications from select Walgreen’s pharmacies in DC. Mayor Bowser and DC Health launched the PEP hotline in 2021 to provide 24/7 access to free PEP.
- Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a safe, daily pill that prevents you from contracting HIV. PrEP is for people who are HIV negative and vulnerable to getting HIV. The DC Health and Wellness Center offers 100% virtual services to get you on PrEP. DC’s TelePrEP program is free, easy, and confidential. Visit sexualbeing.org for more information or call 202-741-7692 to get started.
In addition to free PEP and PrEP, residents can access the following resources through sexualbeing.org:
- Condom Delivery
- At-Home Test Kits
- Positive Voices Podcast
- Safe LGBTQ Housing at SMYAL
- DC Health and Wellness Center (77 P Street NE)
According to DC Health, current data shows that the number of newly diagnosed HIV cases in the District was 210 cases in 2022, a decline of 85% from the peak of 1,374 cases in 2007, and a slight decrease from 2021 with 230 cases. In 202, there were 11,747 individuals living with HIV in the District, accounting for 1.7% of the population; 71% of people living with HIV in DC identify as Black.
The District is committed to improving the care continuum for people living with HIV to sustain their health from diagnosis to linkage and retention in care. Through this commitment, DC Health tracks how people are connected to care, engaged in treatment, and achieving viral load suppression. The District has set the bold goal of having fewer than 21 new HIV diagnoses each year by 2030.
“To stand tall in reaffirming the District's commitment to National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day to intensify our outreach and education initiatives,” Dr. Ayanna Bennett, Director of DC Health. “It's crucial that everyone, especially those within the Black community, understand the importance of regular HIV testing and the availability of prevention methods like PEP and PrEP. Our goal is to make these resources as accessible as possible and to support those living with HIV in every step of their journey towards health and wellness.”
HIV medicine reduces the amount of HIV in the body (viral load) to a very low level, which keeps the immune system working and prevents illness. This is called viral suppression—defined as having less than 200 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. People reaching viral suppression attain better health outcomes and cannot transmit HIV sexually to other people, known as “Undetectable equals Untransmittable”, or U=U. Viral suppression in 2022 among all people living with HIV in DC remained at 69% overall and 85% among people with an indication of engagement in care. Among people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2022, 55.7% were virally suppressed within 90 days and 71% within 6 months.
There are more than 15 providers in the District who can provide comprehensive HIV care to help residents achieve viral suppression. Among people newly diagnosed with HIV in 2022, 55.7% were virally suppressed within 90 days, and 71% within 6 months.
In collaboration with Maryland's Montgomery County and Prince George's County, DC Health has also released the second season of the Positive Voices podcast. Hosts Tei Pearson-Hall and Malachi Stewart speak with special guests and amplify the voices of local HIV community members, giving them space to share their life experiences, encouraging people living with HIV to engage with care and treatment, and discussing resources like LinkUDMV, which helps residents locate health, food, housing, and GetCheckedDC, which offers free, convenient, and confidential HIV/STD testing for residents 13 and up.
To access free and confidential HIV/STI resources, visit sexualbeing.org. For more information about the District's plan to end HIV, visit DCEndsHIV.org.