Friday, March 4, 2011


Here’s a fun fact. The Nation’s Capital, Washington, District of Colombia, political center of the Western world and seat of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and the U.S. federal government as a whole, has an HIV/AIDS infection rate of three percent. Come to think of it, that’s not fun at all. It is frightening, embarrassing, and shameful. In West Africa where it is believed the disease originated, nations have declared such a high rate an epidemic.

It’s not that Washingtonians fornicate in the streets or practice other forms of unprotected sex. No. It is drugs, pure and simple. Heroin, to be exact. DC streets are still awash with the stuff, and the war on drugs—a failure through and through—has done nothing to alleviate the situation. Heroin users do not have discretionary funds. They routinely employ needles used by other, infected addicts, and the transmitted disease is in turn passed on to others either sexually or with the same infected needles. Attempts to stem HIV/AIDS have involved police crackdown, public education and free needles for the addicts who need them. The latter program, which targets the type of user who is not interested in hearing about counseling, 12-step groups or recovery, ended a week ago. Budget cuts.

Basically, DC’s PreventionWorks! operated out of a worn and tired van that made scheduled stops so addicts could turn in old needles and get fresh ones. PreventionWorks! is credited with saving many lives in the inner city, and now the recently elected mayor and council have decided the program is not worth its $300,000 annual budget. Just so you get the facts straight, DC Council Chairman Kwame Brown was recently chastised for ordering a fully-loaded Lincoln Navigator from the city for his personal use. The vehicle’s lease is $2,000 a month.

According to the Washington Post, “the average cost of lifetime care for someone with HIV/AIDS is about $385,200.” That an expense paid for by DC taxpayers and, to a lesser extent, federal taxpayers as well.

We are used to the short-sightedness of our elected officials. I guess this is just another sad example.

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