An Open Letter to Mayor Vincent

First, thank you for appointing me to the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. It has been an honor to serve for the past year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Washington, D.C., has consistently ranked number one in the nation as the city with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS infections for the past few years. As a former HIV/ STI-prevention worker for the North Carolina Department of Health, may I offer a suggestion? Most states interview all people who test positive for HIV or syphilis, compile a list of their sex partners and needle-sharing partners, and warn those partners that they may have been exposed. The partners are then offered free counseling and testing, as well as free treatment for syphilis to cure the infection before it can spread to others. While this testing is encouraged, it is voluntary for partners of HIV-positive individuals. All names are kept strictly confidential to comply with privacy laws.  It is my understanding that the District of Columbia is one of few jurisdictions that does not warn people who have been exposed to HIV and
syphilis. May I suggest that we begin warning them now? Until Washington can recruit, hire, and train
health workers to perform partner notifications, your team should declare a public health emergency
and request the CDC send teams of surveillance workers to the District as they have done in
many other areas with outbreaks of STIs. This would cost nothing to District taxpayers and could save many lives, while potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars in future healthcare costs.
Gary J. Minter
Street Sense Vendor 389
[email protected]

Issues |Health, Physical

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