San Francisco Unveils New Initiatives to Prevent the Spread of HIV, STDs
To curb San Francisco's "growing HIV infection rate" and combat "alarming rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea" in the city's African-American community, health officials yesterday unveiled several new prevention initiatives, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. With a $1 million grant from DuPont Pharmaceuticals and matching funds from the city, health officials plan to open a men's health center in the Castro district this fall. San Francisco also plans to expand its Neighborhood Health on Wheels vans, which bring testing equipment to neighborhoods throughout the city. San Francisco Public Health Director Mitchell Katz said that the new strategies reflect a shift in the "battle plan to fight HIV." Last year, San Francisco became the first city to report an increase in new cases of HIV infection, and studies have indicated that the safe-sex programs launched in the 1980s and 1990s are "breaking down." Katz said, "Right now, what we find among surveys is people uniformly know how HIV is spread, and they know how to prevent it. So then you have to go to the next level and talk about what are the other factors that bring people to having unsafe sex, whether its self-esteem being low, substance abuse." According to city Health Department data, black gay men make up only 4% of the city's population but account for 12% of its HIV cases. City health officials plan to launch an advertising campaign targeting African-American men about "high risk sexual practices." In minority neighborhoods, the city also plans to increase treatment and testing for STDs such as chlamydia, syphilis and gonorrhea, which are considered "precursors" to HIV infection (Lelchuk, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/13).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.