Noting that the District is the “epicenter” of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation opened a free treatment clinic Thursday in the 2100 block of K Street, at the gateway to Georgetown.
The opening of the AHF Blair Underwood Healthcare Center, named for the Hollywood actor and AIDS activist, was attended by Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and officials from the Obama administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the March of Dimes.
The foundation criticized District health officials for not sending a representative.
The city’s infection rate, 3 percent, is the nation’s worst, according to a study this year by its HIV/AIDS Administration. And the foundation, which calls itself the country’s largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS health-care provider, came to the District because of its status as the “epicenter” of the disease, said its director, Michael Weinstein.
He said the city’s top health officials “told us we were not needed. We have enough health-care providers. They would not allow us to participate in its ADAP program,” the federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program, which provides free medication to patients.
The city has begun to do a remarkable job in combating the disease after years of stagnation, but the “system of care is faltering in some respects,” he said. The District needs to welcome any help it can get, Weinstein said, noting that its infection rate is higher than that of Lagos, Nigeria.