District Notebook

By Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and the District's top health officials went to the Deanwood neighborhood in Northeast on Monday to announce a new effort to get people tested for HIV. The visit came on the heels of a report that shows at least 3 percent of D.C. residents and 6.5 percent of the city's black males are infected with the AIDS virus.

Cornell Jones, executive director of Miracle Hands, a nonprofit community development organization, said the city is not doing enough to assist people who work with ex-offenders, a group with one of the highest HIV infection rates.

"Right now, the agencies in the forefront of this battle are being attacked with a lack of funding," said Jones, whose organization runs an HIV/AIDS prevention program within the D.C. Department of Corrections.

Danette Williams, deputy director of Miracle Hands, said one of its most urgent needs is housing for people with HIV/AIDS.

"We have a revolving door," she said. "They go from emergency housing to supportive housing, and then they are back on the streets because services are fragmented. There is not enough continuity."

Michael Kharfen, spokesman for the Department of Health's HIV/AIDS Administration, said the agency intends to hire someone to address the needs of prisoners and parolees.

According to the report, in 2007, at least 15,120 D.C. residents were infected with HIV or had full-blown AIDS.

Shannon Hader, director of the HIV/AIDS Administration, said the report is the beginning of a new battle to fight the disease.

"I am very hopeful, because I really believe that our citizens and our neighbors can take this information and use it to protect their lives," she said.

D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) blamed the previous administration for not doing enough to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"We had people who we were paying adult wages to run the HIV/AIDS administration who did not have the qualifications or talent or where with all to do it," Catania said. "We had contractors who were happy to take the money [but] not delivering the services."

Waterside Station Is On Schedule, Mayor Says

As dust drifted into the air from the construction site behind him, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) announced last week that the Waterside Station project in Southwest is on schedule for the opening of its first phase in about a year.

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