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HIV infections down by a third in San Francisco but race is still a factor

HIV infections down by a third in San Francisco
A pride parade marching through the streets of San Francisco

Significant progress has been made against beating HIV, and in one of the cities it hit the hardest, San Francisco.

The number of people newly infected with the virus has dropped by just over a third (34%) between 2013 and 2015, according to the most recent HIV Epidemiology Annual Report, published September 1.

In real terms, that’s a drop from 285 in 2013, to just 99 so far this year. According to the report, most (93%) were aware they were infected.

The drop in infections has been attributed to men taking the preventative medicine PrEP, effectively tackling stigma surrounding having the virus and better healthcare for people affected with it.

‘The overall picture is very good, with San Francisco heading toward zero on every HIV measure,’ Barbara Garcia, director of health at San Francisco Department of Public Health, said.

Despite the overall progress, the decreasing rate of infection has not affected every community evenly.

African American men have not seen any drop in infection rates – these men, and Latino men, still have the highest rates of infection. Furthermore, African American men were less likely to survive infection with the virus.

Age is also a factor: people over 50 accounted for more than half of new infections.

‘The data also shows significant disparities, affirming our focus on efforts for groups who are not experiencing as much progress.

‘Without improvements for these populations, we as a city will not reach zero,’ Garcia affirmed.

San Francisco was one of the first cities in the US where the virus was detected in 1981.


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