The high price of ignorance: AIDS rate in Washington DC rivals some African nations

According to DC health care officials, the AIDS rate in the nation's capital is currently just under three percent, with at least 15,000 people suffering from the disease. While not on a par with the Ivory Coast, Kenya, and Tanzania, Washington far exceeds the AIDS rate of Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana and nine other African nations. Moreover, it is almost triple the worldwide AIDS rate, and approaches the four percent AIDS rate of San Francisco in the early 1990's.

Among minorities, the numbers are even more disturbing, with four percent of African Americans and two percent of Hispanics in DC currently suffering from the disease. Another interesting statistic is age-based: almost 10 percent of people between 40 and 49 are HIV positive. Perhaps most frightening, these numbers are based only on Washingtonians who have gotten tested for the virus. Given that only 60 percent of respondents knew their AIDS status and only 30 percent claimed to have used a condom the last time they had sex, it seems likely that the true infection statistics are higher.