Eight years ago, DC Appleseed issued its 2005 report, HIV/AIDS in the Nation’s Capital: Improving the District of Columbia’s Response to a Public Health Crisis. Subsequently, DC Appleseed Report Cards have documented the progress the District government has made. DC Appleseed released the Eighth Report Card this morning.
DC Appleseed applauds Mayor Gray for his ongoing commitment to keeping HIV/AIDS as a priority of his administration. We also commend the District and the community for the progress made in addressing the epidemic – as can be seen in the District’s 2013 Annual Epidemiology & Surveillance Report. The Mayor rightly states that the District is “turning the corner on HIV/AIDS” – but as indicated in many of the sections of this report card, there is still a long way to go to end the epidemic.
“While 718 new HIV cases reported last year is an improvement, it’s still too many,” says DC Appleseed Executive Director, Walter Smith. “It is a reminder that we still have a long way to go to end the epidemic. DC government, service providers, and the community need to work together as partners now more than ever.”
Highlights of recommendations from the Eighth Report Card:
· Three years after the passage of the Healthy Schools Act, DC Appleseed finds that glaring inadequacies remain with respect to HIV/AIDS education in the District. While DCPS has made substantial progress, DC Public Charter Schools and OSSE have fallen short in their responsibility and compliance with the law.
· There has not been effective communication between the District and HIV/AIDS service providers – causing confusion and concern at a time of many leadership and structural changes taking place in the District. However, DC Appleseed is encouraged by the recent interim appointments of Dr. García and Michael Kharfen. In the short time since their appointments, they have started taking steps to improve communication and relationships with HIV/AIDS service providers and the community.
· After four years in development, HAHSTA must finally make the long-awaited DC Public Health Information System (formerly referred to as Maven) operational for HIV. This comprehensive integrated database system has promised to replace the myriad of databases that HIV/AIDS service providers currently must use for reporting, thus greatly simplifying and improving data collection, analysis, and reporting.
· DC Appleseed offers recommendations for the District’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act to help address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, including the ability to compare plans’ drug formularies and provider networks.
UPDATE (11/14/2013): Watch the Eighth Report Card release on YouTube.