Long Beach, California, launched a three-year plan to reduce its high rates of HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reports The Grunion on Gazettes.com. The blueprint arrives in the form of a 26-page document after a yearlong effort by the health department and officials to tackle the growing problem.
When rates of HIV and STIs are compared with Los Angeles County and the state of California, “Long Beach continuously remains higher,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We know that that is unacceptable, and we can do something about that.”
Specifically, the blueprint lays out four goals for the city:
- Add $2 million to train 100 health care providers every year on standards of care relating to HIV and STIs.
- Educate the community about prevention, testing and treatment. Notably, according to the blueprint, it’s important to target at least 4,000 teens and young adults through at least 30 events annually.
- Ensure that 10 more high-burden clinics can treat chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis—and that at least 85% of people who test positive for HIV receive medical care within 30 days and that 90% of people living with HIV reach viral suppression.
- Increase access to Truvada as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, by training 500 providers about this HIV prevention pill. The blueprint calls for getting 4,550 HIV-negative people on PrEP by 2022.
In 2016, Long Beach documented 26 new HIV cases per 100,000 people. This compares with 19 per 100,000 people in Los Angeles County, and it is nearly double the statewide number.
As in many cities, men who have sex with men see higher HIV rates in Long Beach, which is also a popular city among the LGBT community. “A vast majority of people that are living with HIV in Long Beach are gay men,” Garcia said in the Grunion article. “As not just the mayor but also a gay man, it’s incredibly important for me—for me, and the community—that we address this in a way that is sensitive to the issue, that is being led by health professionals and that is being supported by the city.”