Mayor Lee Announces New Bold Steps to Get To Zero in Battle Against HIV/AIDS
HIV Community Planning Council Created & New Campaign Launched to Increase Uptake & Promote HIV Prevention as New HIV Cases in San Francisco Continue to Drop
San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today announced two bold steps in the City’s quest to get to zero new infections in the battle against HIV/AIDS: creation of the new HIV Community Planning Council and launch of a new campaign to increase the use of PrEP to prevent HIV.
San Francisco is aiming to become the first city with zero new HIV infections, zero deaths from HIV and zero stigma. New infections continue to decline, with record-lows set for the past two years. In 2015, there were 255 new cases, down from the 309 reported in 2014. That is a significant drop from 2,332 at the peak of the AIDS crisis in 1992.
“We are on the right track to get to zero,” said Mayor Lee. “We are continuing to see a decline in new HIV infections here in San Francisco, and we are redoubling our planning and prevention efforts to drive that trend all the way to zero.”
To strengthen coordination of HIV services – prevention, testing, linkage to care and retention in treatment – San Francisco has formed one of the nation’s first HIV Community Planning Councils. For several decades, San Francisco had two separate HIV/AIDS planning bodies: the HIV Prevention Planning Council (focused on prevention) and the HIV Ryan White CARE Council (focused on care and treatment). These councils were required by and grew out of federal laws governing the allocation and use of CDC and Ryan White HIV/AIDS funding. The two councils voted on May 23rd to merge into the new San Francisco HIV Community Planning Council.
Mayor Lee today swore in the new members of the HIV Community Planning Council at City Hall.
The Health Department led this change in strategy, in collaboration with community leadership, to better coordinate prevention and care, and will continue to staff and support the new council. Its 44 members are appointed by the Mayor. About half of them are consumers of HIV services, with others including community-based providers and representatives from the Department of Public Health and other City departments. The group’s work covers San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties.
San Francisco has prioritized the fight against HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began. The country’s first dedicated AIDS ward opened at San Francisco General Hospital in 1983. The first antiretroviral drug was tested here in 1987. The City started syringe access and disposal programs to prevent the spread of HIV in 1992. In 2010, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the United States to recommend universal antiretroviral therapy (ART) to all patients at the time of diagnosis, regardless of CD4 cell count. The Mayor’s budget has back-filled federal HIV/AIDS funding cuts each year since 2012, totaling nearly $15 million. Prevention and care are key components of San Francisco’s Getting to Zero initiative, announced last October. The Getting to Zero Coalition is a citywide public-private partnership including the Health Department, community members and organizations, service providers and academic partners like UCSF.
On the prevention front, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a central strategy. PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent when used consistently. San Francisco has been a leader in studies of PrEP safety, feasibility and efficacy since the mid-2000s. The City continues to play a leadership role in PrEP demonstration projects and research. Truvada, the current medication approved for PrEP, is safe and well tolerated. In addition to being a significant prevention tool, PrEP can also be a gateway to care. It is a prescription medication, administered by a doctor.
“To achieve our goal of reaching zero new HIV infections, we need aggressive strategies like promoting PrEP use,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener who announced last year that he was taking PrEP. “San Francisco has long been at the forefront in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we can lead the nation in ending this epidemic.”
“PrEP is an important tool in our fight against new HIV infections,” said Health Director Barbara Garcia. “PrEP has revolutionized prevention, by providing a safe and effective way that people can take charge of their own health, without being dependent on a partner. With PrEP, people who are HIV negative can stay that way.”
Today, more than 6,000 San Franciscans are on PrEP. But more needs to be done, especially for particular groups, including African American and Latino men who have sex with men, and transgender women, who are most at risk. The new PrEP campaign – called Our Sexual Revolution – is funded by the CDC and designed to increase uptake in those communities. Starting today, the campaign will appear throughout the City including at the Civic Center Muni Station, on buses, billboards, social media and at street fairs this summer.
For more information on the new PrEP campaign, go to: oursexualrevolution.org.