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June 16, 2008

AIDS Deaths Go Unreported in Washington, DC

More than half of AIDS-related deaths in Washington, DC, went unreported between 2000 and 2005, the Washington Post reports ( 6/14).

According to an analysis conducted by the DC Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, of the 2,460 deaths from AIDS-related illnesses during the six-year period, 1,337 had not been reported.

“This tells us our surveillance system wasn’t complete enough,” said Shannon Hader, senior deputy director of the DC Health Department’s HIV/AIDS Administration. “We're clearly underreporting.”

The city has initiated several efforts aimed at improving its system, including reaching out to about 4,000 doctors and laboratories to increase the number of diagnoses reported to the city. Officials have also begun routinely reviewing death records and recently launched a campaign to increase HIV testing to try to identify more people before they get sick and die, city officials said.

“What we need to do is get more people who don't know they have HIV diagnosed and into care and treatment,” Hader said. “Every time you go into a health care provider they should be offering to test you for HIV. We want to drive down the number of people living with HIV and don’t know about it.”

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