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San Francisco reports progress in 'Getting to Zero' HIV prevention and treatment effort
Liz Highleyman, 2015-12-07 10:20:00

San Francisco made good progress in HIV prevention and treatment during 2015, and its successes have brought the city national and worldwide attention. But more work is needed to 'get to zero', especially reaching groups currently underserved by current efforts.

"Like Silicon Valley in the tech world, San Francisco is where innovation happens in the HIV world," Diane Havlir, chief of the HIV/AIDS division at San Francisco General Hospital, said at a December 1 forum commemorating World AIDS Day.

Havlir and committee members from the city's Getting to Zero Consortium gave a progress report on the initiative, which aims to make San Francisco the first US jurisdiction to eliminate new HIV infections, HIV-related deaths and HIV stigma and discrimination.

"Highlights of this year's accomplishments include a substantial increase in PrEP uptake, launch of a city-wide protocol to ensure immediate access to care and treatment for people newly diagnosed with HIV, and the beginning of a comprehensive program to increase retention in care for everyone living with HIV," said Susan Buchbinder, director of Bridge HIV at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SF DPH). "In 2016, we'll build upon these early successes, with a particular focus on populations in greatest need."

In an update to the SF Health Commission Buchbinder presented findings from the SF DPH 2014 HIV Epidemiology Annual Report, showing that the number of newly diagnosed HIV infections in the city fell by more than 18%, from 371 in 2013 to 302 in 2014 - the lowest since the start of the epidemic. The number of new infections fell in all racial/ethnic groups and only 14 women were newly diagnosed last year. Deaths due to any cause among people with HIV fell by 15% during the same period, from 209 to 177.