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D.C. Reports Drop In New AIDS Cases And Deaths

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By Patrick Madden

Health officials in D.C. say they are making strides in the fight against the HIV/AIDS. Dr. Shannon Hader, the city's top HIV/AIDS official, says the number of new AIDS cases and deaths declined by about a third from 2004 to 2008.

She says more people are getting tested. For example, there were nearly 100,000 HIV tests last year, double the number from 2006.And she says more people are seeking HIV medical treatment earlier, which is helping them live longer, healthier lives because it prevents HIV from becoming full-blown AIDS.

"The better we do, the more we must do as well because what we are finding with better services, better coverage, better strategies, we are finding people who were never served previously," says Hader.

The city still has the highest HIV rates in the country and the number of newly reported HIV cases increased last year by nine percent.

Hader says the next step in the fight against this epidemic is moving from, what she calls, the "promotion of availability to the promotion of use." That is, not only making condoms and HIV medications free and available to residents, but making sure they're widely used.

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