Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the creation of the Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS to help end the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia. The Commission will focus on treatment, the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and the prevention to stop new infections. Mayor Gray also announced that the DC Department of Health (DOH) has taken steps to improve access and quality of care for residents living with HIV/AIDS immediately.
“By bringing together HIV leaders from our best medical institutions, our universities, and the community, this Commission will ensure that we fight HIV as One City,” said Mayor Gray. “The rate of deaths from HIV/AIDS has decreased, however we still have a 3% infection rate, every resident needs to take this disease seriously and be invested in ending new infections.”
Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS
Mayor Gray will chair the Commission, which will include representatives from the medical community, the faith-based community, business communities and the District Government. The Commission will have 27 members appointed by the Mayor.
Among the Commission’s responsibilities will be recommendations for the best ways to reduce barriers and promote HIV medical treatment, development of evidence-based HIV/AIDS policy recommendations for reducing HIV infection rates and recommendations regarding the collaboration among District agency programs and services. After three months the Commission is expected to make its first recommendations and have a full report after a year.
“We are seeing progress in our fight against HIV in DC with the first reductions ever in new AIDS cases and deaths with AIDS along with increases in getting people into treatment quicker,” said Dr. Akhter. “However, we continue to see the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout our community at an alarming rate, we are only going to stop this disease when we prevent new infections.”
Immediate Changes to Improve HIV/AIDS Care
While the Commission is working, DOH will implement immediate programmatic changes to improve care. The changes will affect residents, medical providers and the system of care as a whole.
Treatment on Demand: DOH will immediately start work to create a system that provides HIV/AIDS treatment to anyone who requires it in the District. Treatment of HIV/AIDS both improves the health of the patient and significantly reduces the risk of transmission.
Returning Citizens: DOH has engaged the Chair of the US Parole Commission to coordinate care so that all citizens with HIV/AIDS returning to the community after time in the federal prison system remain on treatment and are immediately connected to care.
Medical Education: DOH will develop a required Continuing Medical Education (CME) course for all healthcare professionals on working with HIV/AIDS patients. The course will keep all health professionals up to date on the new developments in the management of the disease. The course will be part of the CME requirements for the renewal of licenses in the District.
Certificates of Need: As the population of residents living with HIV/AIDS ages, they face the same diseases that affect the rest of the population and threaten everyone’s health such as heart disease and diabetes. So that medical professionals can treat the whole person and not just the HIV/AIDS infection Dr. Akhter has authorized the State Health Planning and Development Agency to create an exemption for the Certificate of Need process for expansions of outpatient primary care, substance abuse and mental health services at certain HIV/AIDS treatment providers.