While Washington, D.C. has made progress by expanding HIV testing programs in its city’s jails, promoting needle exchange programs and AIDS education in schools, a new report suggests that the city needs to do much more to raise public awareness about the disease. The report, written by the Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, a D.C.-based advocacy group, suggests that more aggressive tactics need to be introduced in order to reduce new infections.

“One of the things that I’d like to see is [Mayor] Fenty frankly speaking out more on this issue,” says Walter Smith, Appleseed’s executive director. “A very active mayor could influence the faith-based community, the African-American communities, the Latino communities there. It’s an issue that a lot of people, even now, are afraid to talk about.”

According to Kaiser Family Foundation, the District of Columbia has the highest rate of AIDS among African Americans in the country: 277.5 out of 100,000 people. Also, 37 percent of the city’s HIV cases are believed to come from heterosexual contact, while men having sex with (MSM) is the most common mode of transmission nationally.

Learn more about HIV/AIDS at poz.com.