Data Points Podcast Episode 24 – Tackling HIV with Data

In this episode, producer Amy Hutchinson explains how the District of Columbia used data to reduce HIV transmissions by 70% in 7 years. It’s a story rife with lessons on how important data is in tackling major public health problems that threaten the lives and well-being of our children, friends, family and neighbors.

When District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty took office in 2007, it was estimated that 1 in 20 District residents were HIV positive. Other major cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Detroit and Chicago were also epicenters of the disease, but their prevalence rates were half or even just a quarter of DC’s. Worse still, if you looked at new pediatric cases across the entire nation, 9% came from nation’s capital: a city that’s only 9 x 11 miles and home to just .2% of the US population.

After declaring HIV/AIDS the Mayor’s #1 public health priority, the District got serious about using data to drive an informed response and target its prevention initiatives. Over the several years, the prevalence rate started to fall—and has continued to do so ever since.

How did they do it? To bring you the story, Amy interviews two people on the front lines of the District’s HIV/AIDS epidemic:

  • Michael Kharfen, Director of the DC Department of Health (DOH) – HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA); and,  
  • A. Toni Young, Executive Director of the Community Education Group

During the discussion, our guests touch on a variety of topics including: strategic partnerships between cities and anchor academic institutions; building a strong evidence base for strategy development; and making data easy for stakeholders on the front lines to use. To find out more about the District’s use of data to fight HIV, check out their annual surveillance reports or get in touch with GovEx.

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