The District loses its effective HIV/AIDS chief
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an epidemic is considered "generalized and severe" when more than 1 percent of a local population is infected. Well, in March 2008, we learned that at least 3 percent of the entire population of the District of Columbia is living with HIV/AIDS. And the reason we even know this harrowing statistic is because of Dr. Shannon Hader.
With one report she reminded us that, while the epidemic is raging overseas, it is an inferno right here in the nation's capital. Getting that survey done -- and putting other systems in place to give the District a fighting chance to overcome the disease with no cure -- is the kind of leadership that put the city's troubled HIV/AIDS administration on a better, more accountable path. That's why today's announcement that after three years of service Hader is stepping down as director of the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA) is such a blow.
The Post's "Wasting Away" series documented the dysfunction and waste at the agency before Hader's arrival and that still haunt corners of it today. But she has been able to make incredible advances. The District is the first in the country to implement routine HIV testing for all adults and adolescents. Knowing your status is the key to protecting yourself and others. Because perinatal HIV testing has been expanded to "nearly all labor and delivery suites," HAHSTA says it reduced the number of babies born with HIV from 10 in 2005 to just 1 in 2007. And Hader secured a $26 million partnership with the National Institutes of Health to improve treatment and help recruit researchers.
Those are structural, institutional and policy changes that will continue after Hader's departure next month. I hope Mayor Adrian Fenty can find another HAHSTA director to match the passion and leadership Hader brought to the post.
| June 8, 2010; 5:05 PM ET
Categories: Capehart | Tags: Jonathan Capehart
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