Standing at the vanguard of U.S. HIV prevention and treatment efforts, San Francisco has seen numerous measures of its local epidemic improve dramatically since kick-starting a multifaceted campaign known as “Getting to Zero” in 2010. The goal is to get to zero new cases of HIV transmission and zero HIV-related deaths—or as close as possible to these figures.
According to a recent study of local HIV surveillance data, the annual number of HIV diagnoses in the Bay Area city declined from 473 in 2009 to 329 in 2014. Additionally, a subsequent report indicated that 2016 saw a record low of 223 diagnoses—along with troubling racial disparities within key measures of the epidemic.
Between 2009 and 2014, the proportions of those individuals who were linked to HIV-related medical care within three months of diagnosis rose from 86 percent to 92 percent; the rate of those who started ARV treatment within one year of diagnosis rose from 63 percent to 91 percent; the rate of those who had a fully suppressed virus within one year of their HIV diagnosis rose from 49 percent to 82 percent; and the rate of those who were diagnosed with AIDS within three months of an HIV diagnosis (indicating that they likely tested very late in the course of their infection) decreased from 27 percent to 16 percent.
During the same period, the average time between an individual’s HIV diagnosis and his or her start on ARV treatment declined from nine months to just one month, while the time between receiving a diagnosis and achieving an undetectable viral load narrowed from 11 months to three months.
According to Susan Scheer, PhD, MPH, the director of the HIV Epidemiology Section at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the report “highlights the success of HIV prevention and treatment programs being implemented as part of the Getting to Zero effort in San Francisco and provides a data-driven approach to addressing disparities going forward so we can get to zero for all San Franciscans, including our most vulnerable populations.”