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The Heart of a Crisis - AIDS/HIV In Washington, DC

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On March 16, 2009 the Washington, DC Department of Health issued a report showing the rate of AIDS/HIV in DC to be at 3%. The head of DC’s AIDS program stated publicly that this rate is equivalent to some West African countries such as Uganda and Kenya. Although there are many other capital cities in the world with similar or worse infection rates, it is troubling to consider that the capital of the most prosperous nation on earth has HIV infection rates similar to developing countries. The newspapers and other news sources covered this story for about a day, calling it a “serious epidemic.” And yet, by March 17, 2009 this information was not part of a broader public conversation. Although the report does not overtly discuss the relationship between AIDS/HIV and poverty, it is clear from this report and other recent reports, that AIDS is quickly becoming a disease of the poor. In some of his writings, Dr. David Hilfiker, our guest today, discusses the despair that overcomes people living in poverty. In the words of another Washingtonian, “despair takes time,” meaning that it takes time to sit with despair to truly address its roots and causes in order to overcome it. However, out modern media blitz world makes it difficult to sit with the despair of the current crisis here in DC. So today we will be taking our time to discuss the AIDS/HIV crisis. Joining us is Dr. David Hilfiker, who moved with his family to Washington DC to help found Christ House, a medical recovery shelter for homeless men. In 1990 he founded Joseph’s House, a home for homeless men with AIDS, where he lived for three years with his family. He has written numerous books dealing with poverty and the medical care of the poor. In his writings and conversations on poverty, he discusses at length the role of charity, justice, and relationship. We will be exploring the role these ideas can and should play in addressing the DC AIDS/HIV crisis.

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