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January 15, 2009

San Francisco Falls Short of MSM HIV Prevention Goal

Five years ago, San Francisco health officials aimed to reduce by 50 percent new HIV infections among men who have sex with men (MSM) by 2008; however, the latest data show that the city failed to reach that goal, according to the Bay Area Reporter.

But the city did reduce HIV infections by 10 percent, according to recent estimates for rates of new HIV infections in San Francisco. As a result, the city’s HIV epidemic is now classified as an endemic, meaning that the annual rate of new infections is remaining the same from year to year.

In 2004, when the 50-percent reduction goal was included in the city’s HIV prevention plan, the health department estimated that there were 1,082 new HIV infections each year, with MSM accounting for 835 of them.

Today, officials have reduced those estimates to 975 new HIV infections each year, of which MSM account for 772.

“We are in an era of low level incidence rates that seems like it will go on for a long time,” said H. Fisher Raymond, an HIV epidemiologist with the health department. “It will be harder to increase the effectiveness of our reduction campaigns. We are down to a small group of people who are hard to find, and therefore, it is hard to determine what to do.”

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