When thousands of diplomats and doctors arrive in the District for the 2012 International AIDS conference, they'll find themselves in a city where three percent of the population is living with HIV/AIDS.
"We have not been able to tip the scale. We have not been able to get ahead of the epidemic," says D.C. Department of Health Director Mohammad Akhter.
And the fight isn't getting easier. The PreventionWorks needle exchange program closed Friday, and a federal budget proposed by Republicans in Congress would prohibit the city from using local funds to support similar programs.
But Akhter says the District is ready to ramp up its efforts.
"With the conference coming it has energized us all to do something more," he says.
Akhter says the city is implementing a new plan that will provide individuals with medication as soon as they are diagnosed, ensure ex-offenders are connected to treatment as they re-enter the community and support continuing education so all doctors are able to treat patients suffering from HIV/AIDS.