San Francisco rate of new HIV infections to slow
By Brigid Gaffikin, Bay City News Service
April 3, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - HIV infection rates reported in
San Francisco for 2006 are likely to be 10 percent lower than
during 2001, according to the San Francisco Department of Public
Health, making the city a stand-out case among major urban centers
in the U.S.
The rate of infection among gay and bisexual men has dropped
even further, by 20 percent, with fewer than 2 infections for
every 100 gay and bisexual men in San Francisco anticipated this
"The message overall is that HIV prevention is working,"
said Jason Riggs, communications director of the STOPS AIDS Project,
in a statement. "This new information is very encouraging.
Our hope is that the downward trend doesn't reverse again but
rather gains momentum in the years to come," he added.
According to new estimates released by the STOP AIDS Project,
976 people will be infected with HIV in 2006 compared with 1,084
in 2001. Some 87 percent of those new infections will occur among
gay and bisexual men.
In 2001, city officials estimated around 17,817 people were living
with HIV in San Francisco, compared with 18,735 in 2006, according
to the STOP AIDS Project.
Between 2001 and 2005 the number of gay and bisexual men living
in San Francisco increased by around 25 percent, from around 46,800
Health and city officials are attributing the declining infection
rate to a combination of factors, including healthy measures taken
by gay and bisexual men to protect themselves and others from
the virus, new treatments that keep HIV-positive people less infectious
and the combined efforts of AIDS service organizations, the Department
of Public Health and community businesses serving primarily gay
clientele, according to Riggs.
Some of the healthy measures HIV-positive gay and bisexual men
have adopted include "sero-sorting," or having sex only
with other HIV-positive men.
Other factors contributing to the decline in the rate of infections
include the drop in syphilis cases in recent years. Syphilis makes
it easier for HIV to enter a person's body.
A decline in the number of gay and bisexual men using crystal
methamphetamine has also helped reduce the number of reported
cases of HIV.
The STOP AIDS Project reported that studies show HIV transmission
and crystal meth use are closely linked. Gay and bisexual men
who use methamphetamine are 3 to 4 times more likely to acquire
HIV than non-users; they also represent around 30 percent of new
HIV infections in the city, according to the STOP AIDS Project.
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