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Be Positive You’re Negative: World AIDS Day and Every Day

SARAH THAPPABy Sarah Thappa – Sarah is a member of AIDS United’s AmeriCorps National team with the Washington AIDS Partnership and serves as the HIV Health Promotion Specialist at N Street Village. She does HIV education, counseling, outreach, and testing in addition to health promotion classes on various topics. Sarah hails from Northern Illinois and graduated from Carleton College ‘13 with a B.A. in Biology.

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Let’s kick off this post with a pre-reading quiz… 

Which city has the highest rate of HIV?
a.
Accra, Ghana
b. Dakar, Senegal
c. Washington, D.C.
d. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The answer is c. Washington, D.C. The highest concentration of HIV in the world is in Sub-Saharan Africa; however, if Washington, D.C. were a country in Africa, it would rank 24/54 for highest HIV prevalence rates. Ten states account for 2/3 of the HIV diagnoses in 2011, and the South accounted for 48% of those diagnoses.

What percentage of a population infected qualifies as an epidemic?
a.
0.5%
b. 1.0%
c. 2.0%
d. 5.0%

The answer is b. 1.0% of a population infected with a disease defines as an epidemic. The District of Columbia has a reported 2.7% HIV infection rate, according to the Department of Health.

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ProcessThis past Sunday, December 1st, 2013 was the 25th celebration of World AIDS Day. N Street Village has marked the day by discussing HIV and AIDS with its staff and clients and by looking at how the disease directly affects our community.  We honored the many friends and family we have lost to the disease over the past decades and celebrated the lives of those living with HIV in our community.

There are currently an estimated 34 million people living with HIV throughout the world and an estimated 1.1 million living with HIV in the United States. Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS from the very beginning of the epidemic. In Washington, D.C., the population with the greatest prevalence rate is African-American heterosexual women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American women accounted for 64% of new infections among women in 2010.

Homeless women are particularly at risk of contracting HIV disease. They are frequently victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, which have been linked to increased likelihood of infection.  Homeless women who struggle with addiction may exchange sex for drugs or money, which increases their risk of exposure.

At N Street Village, 11% of the women served report being HIV positive.  The disease continues to push the limits of health care resources available to low-income women in the District. N Street Village is committed to connecting its clients to appropriate medical care by offering primary medical and psychiatric care on-site through Unity Health Care and through partnerships with nearby providers. Additionally, N Street Village combines stable housing with on-site support services, including a day center providing for basic needs, a wellness center with holistic programming, and mental health and addiction services, all of which empower its clients to make healthy life choices.

Today, more people are living with HIV than ever before. HIV is preventable. HIV does not discriminate. I challenge you to join me in looking at how this virus manifests in your life. Who do you know who is living with HIV? Do you know or love someone who has died of an AIDS related illness? What do you do to reduce the stigma and discrimination for those living with HIV?

And most importantly, be positive you’re negative—get tested

Sources for this post include:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kaiser Family Foundation
Department of Health and Human Services

N Street Village Marks World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day was yesterday and N Street Village marked the day by reaching out to its staff and clients to discuss HIV and AIDS and how the disease affects our community.  We honored the many friends and family we have lost to the disease over the past three decades by asking community members to add a personal message to a memorial wall.  We also celebrated the lives of those women who are living with HIV, many of whom have recently joined the N Street Village family from Miriam’s House. Information was shared about HIV transmission and safe sex tactics, including the female condom, which is the latest tool available to women worldwide to reduce the risk of HIV transmission.

HIV has touched the lives of more than twenty-five percent of our clients and while the disease continues to push the limits of health care resources available to low-income women in the District, N Street Village is committed to connecting our clients to appropriate medical care and case management, and to empower our clients to make healthy life choices.

Check our future blog postings for more information about HIV/AIDS outreach and services  at N Street Village and enjoy photos from yesterday’s event.

By Amy Nelson – Amy sits on N Street Village’s HIV/AIDS Impact Committee and previously served on the board of directors of Miriam’s House for many years.  She is a supervising attorney in the legal services program at Whitman-Walker Health, which represents low-income clients in cases involving  immigration, workplace rights, access to health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, drug assistance programs, private insurance, transgender law, consumer rights, and estate planning.  Amy graduated from Texas A&M University and George Washington University Law School and is a loyal Dallas Mavericks fan.

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In Case You Missed It – Merger Video Annoucement

It has been one week since N Street Village and Miriam’s House announced they would be joining forces to ensure that high-quality housing and supportive services for homeless women living with HIV/AIDS remain available in D.C. as demand for such services increases.

Check out the video announcement released last week to learn more and to hear from N Street Village and Miriam’s House leadership, staff, and clients on what this means for our community.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K7RbOygO-E&w=853&h=480]