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In the News D.C.'s AIDS Epidemic

March 17, 2009

The history behind the District's AIDS crisis underscores how politics and lack of top-down leadership have been a driving force around the world in the spread of AIDS.

Here's two short back-to-back clips from our Age of AIDS series:

The first one deals with the U.S. By '95 AIDS had become a top killer of young Americans. President Bill Clinton had the chance to fight for a federally supported needle-exchange program - which would have helped slow the spread in cities like D.C. - but he wouldn't take up the battle.

And the second clip here highlights the story of one president who did confront the social taboos and politics of AIDS. Uganda's Yoweri Museveni showed that AIDS prevention campaigns work. In 1992 Uganda had a 16 percent rate of infection. Within a decade it had dropped to 4-6 percent.

[A note on Washington D.C.'s unique vulnerability on politics: Until recently, it had been the only U.S. city barred by federal law from using local funds for needle-exchange programs due to Congress's jurisdiction over the District. Injection drug use is the second most common cause of HIV transmission there. ]

Read/Watch:

"City Says HIV Count Is Likely Too Low" 3/17/09

NPR's "On Point" hour radio discussion on AIDS in America 3/17/09

FRONTLINE's Age of AIDS series

Uganda - A Complicated Success Story

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