- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 25, 2006


City to start HIV testing

D.C. officials are urging 400,000 residents to be tested for HIV, an unprecedented push they hope will reverse one of the country’s highest infection rates.

The city plans to begin a campaign Tuesday encouraging men and women from 14 to 84 to take an oral-swab test that delivers results in 20 minutes. The start of the “Come Together D.C., Get Screened for HIV” program will coincide with National HIV Testing Day.

The city’s Department of Health will distribute 80,000 tests to hospital emergency rooms, private doctors’ offices and community health programs. If the supply is exhausted before the end of the year, then one-fifth of the key population will have been reached in the next six months, officials said.

The city has the highest rate of new AIDS cases in the country, at 179.2 per 100,000 persons. Almost 10,000 people in the city have the disease, with blacks disproportionately affected. The city does not have enough data to estimate how many people have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

City officials want the rapid test to become as common as blood-pressure monitoring or a cholesterol check. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering a recommendation “strongly encouraging” doctors to offer HIV tests as a matter of course to patients 13 to 64.



Ice cream truck catches fire on I-66

An ice cream truck caught fire last night and shut down Interstate 66 in both directions.

Virginia State Police said the truck was traveling west along the highway between Route 50 and the Fairfax County Parkway just before 6 p.m. when cylinders carrying about 80 gallons of propane caught fire. There were no reports of injuries.

Early indications were that there was probably a problem with the connection between a cylinder and the truck’s refrigeration system.

Eastbound I-66 was reopened just after 7:45 p.m., and authorities worked to get westbound traffic moving again shortly afterward.

The truck could not be moved until authorities were certain the propane had burned off.


Alexandria eating star wins contest

Sonya Thomas of Alexandria ate 60 ham biscuits yesterday to win a competitive-eating contest at the 16th Annual Virginia State Harley Davidson Owners Group Rally.

Miss Thomas, 37, beat out 11 other competitors from International Federation of Competitive Eating and Harley Davidson owners from throughout the state.

Miss Thomas, known as the Black Widow, weighs about 100 pounds.

Her final competition, New York’s Eric “Badlands” Booker, ate 42 ham biscuits.

Mr. Booker and Miss Thomas dunked the biscuits into pitchers and cups of water to help speed the act of swallowing.



Campus to open public health school

The University of Maryland at Baltimore will open a school of public health, which will be the first new professional school on the city campus in 45 years.

The university has been a leader in epidemiology and preventive medicine.

The state Board of Regents approved plans Friday to draw on existing resources at the university, including the master of public health degree now offered by the School of Medicine, to create the seventh professional school on the Baltimore campus.


Sex offenders certified to teach

Eleven convicted sex offenders did not lose their Maryland teaching certificates, according to a legislative audit released Friday.

The audit states Maryland education officials have not put in place adequate safeguards to prevent convicted criminals from working in schools.

The audit was done by a watchdog agency that reviews all state departments every three years.

None of the 11 offenders was working in a Maryland public school at the time auditors learned they were still certified to teach. However, they could have been working in private schools.

State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick says local school systems are responsible for making sure teachers do not have criminal records.


Ehrlich appoints homosexual judge

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has named an openly homosexual judge to serve on the Baltimore District Court.

Mr. Ehrlich appointed Christopher Panos, 47, a special master in the city Circuit Court family division, to a fill a court vacancy.

The governor’s appointment comes more than a week after he fired one of his appointees to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Robert J. Smith, for saying on a talk show that homosexuals lived a life of “sexual deviancy.”

Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, has been careful about homosexual issues since being elected governor with strong crossover support from Democrats.

After a Baltimore judge ruled this year that Maryland’s law prohibiting same-sex “marriage” was unconstitutional, Mr. Ehrlich first said he did not think a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was necessary, then changed his position.


Man arrested after shooting death

Howard County police have arrested and charged a man in connection with the shooting death Friday night of a Savage man.

Michael Dean Jackson of Columbia has been charged with first- and second-degree murder and first- and second-degree assault. The victim has been identified as Anthony James Owen-Smith, 20, of Howard Hills Drive in Savage.

The shooting occurred at about 11:30 p.m. outside the Kings Crossing community entrance. The victim was shot in the chest and died at a hospital.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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