WASHINGTON – The District of Columbia has the worst rate of AIDS out of any U.S. city, revealed a new report that claims HIV/AIDS there has become "a modern epidemic."
The rate of AIDS in the district is twice the rate of New York and four times the rate of Detroit, according to the study released by D.C. health officials this week. One in 20 city residents is thought to have HIV, while 1 in 50 residents have AIDS, said Shannon Hader, head of the District's HIV/AIDS Administration, to the Washington Post.
In total, about 12,500 people were known to have HIV/AIDS in 2006, according to the report.
"HIV/AIDS in the District has become a modern epidemic with complexities and challenges that continue to threaten the lives and well-being of far too many residents," the report states.
The 120-page report is the city's first AIDS update since 2000, and indicates a stark rise of HIV cases among African Americans and through heterosexual contacts.
"The information in the report is being presented as evidence that everyone can get HIV/AIDS, yet evidence is overwhelming that homosexual sex and IV drug use are sources of the virus," said Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, director and senior fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute.
"We owe it to the public to stress that promiscuity is the basic problem," she continued. "We must teach our children that the healthy way of life is abstinence prior to marriage and fidelity within marriage. We must create a new cultural environment where adults are encouraged to treat sex with the respect that it deserves; sleeping around is not just foolish, it is also dangerous."
As World AIDS Day – Dec. 1 – fast approaches, many churches and Christian organizations are spearheading AIDS awareness campaigns.
Saddleback Church, founded by "Purpose Driven" Pastor Rick Warren, opened its third annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church on Wednesday.
Rick and his wife Kay Warren have emphasized their belief that the Christian Church is the only truly global organization "existing in every country and in thousands of indigenous people groups that are not represented by the Untied Nations or any multi-national corporation."
Some 2.3 billion people who profess to be followers of Christ make Christianity the largest organization, widest network and biggest volunteer force on the planet, the Warrens pointed out.
"I see more and more individual churches, pastors and believers who are recognizing that this is what the Bible teaches and that there is nothing strange about it," Kay Warren told Reuters.
Meanwhile, World Vision, one of the world's largest Christian humanitarian agencies, will release its findings of an international survey on the opinions and perceptions of AIDS among residents of seven nations at the United Nations on Thursday.
Trans World Radio, a Christian radio ministry, said it has addressed the HIV/AIDS issue since 1986 on its radio programs.
"The HIV/AIDS pandemic is so large that it can't be stopped without the combined efforts of leadership in the public, private/profit and faith sectors," stated Kay Warren, who along with her husband advocates for government, non-governmental organizations, and churches to work together to combat the epidemic.
Some 33.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including 18 million women and children living with HIV/AIDS, according to UNAIDS/WHO.