SAN FRANCISCO: Rise in HIV Prompts Call For New Prevention Strategies
San Francisco AIDS leaders yesterday called for a new attack strategy to combat the recent rise in HIV in the community, saying that HIV transmission has reached "Sub-Saharan African" levels, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. AIDS experts estimate that 30%-32% of the city's gay male population has HIV. Speaking at a supervisors' Finance Committee hearing, Tom Coates, director of the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, predicted that the percentage of gay men who will be infected within the next 12 months is 1.7%-7%. The rate of new HIV infections has risen from 498 in 1997 to 790 in 1999, with an increase that doubled the rate of new infections among gay men from 283 to 573. San Francisco Public Health Director Dr. Mitchell Katz explained, "San Francisco needs a new prevention model. People do not have the fear they once did of contracting HIV. The new model ... like in the '80s must be a community effort." To this end, Katz proposed an 11-point plan to urge gay men to undergo HIV testing and to expand drug treatment and reduce viral loads among those infected. He noted that the city could decrease its HIV infection rate by 95% if unprotected anal sex was eradicated. Veteran AIDS activist Jeff Getty expressed his satisfaction with the hearing, but said that one of the most important tactics to reduce the spread of HIV would be to eliminate the "glamourized" HIV-lifestyle depicted by handsome, healthy-looking men in pharmaceutical advertisements. Katz agreed that life-extending antiretroviral therapy has increased the length and quality of life to such an extent that many people no longer consider HIV to be a "death sentence" (Heredia, 8/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.