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SF receives $500K grant for ‘getting to zero’ HIV infections effort

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Mayor Ed Lee speaks at the Getting to Zero press conference on Thursday. (Kevin Kelleher/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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San Francisco’s effort to become the first city with zero new HIV infections received a funding boost Thursday with the donation of $500,000 from the MAC AIDS Fund, which raises money through the sale of cosmetic products to fight the disease, Mayor Ed Lee announced Thursday.

By increasing local funding to offset federal funding cuts to HIV-related services and turning to new programs, San Francisco says it can reduce new HIV infections by 90 percent by 2020, and achieve zero new infections long before 2030. It would make San Francisco the first city to eliminate new HIV infections.

The mayor announced he was allocating $1.2 million in addition to the $500,000 grant for a combined $1.7 million to fund initiatives developed by the “Getting to Zero” consortium. In 2013, the consortium was established joining various groups working on the issue to develop a uniform strategy and goals.

The funding will increase the number of HIV patients who can receive care, expand the use of PrEP(pre-exposure prophylaxis) medication — the brand name of the drug Truvada. The money will also increase RAPID testing programs, which connect those who test positive for HIV with clinic treatment the same day.

Last year, there were 302 new HIV reported diagnoses in San Francisco and 177 AIDS-related deaths. That is down from the 519 new HIV reported diagnoses in 2006 and 327 AIDS-related deaths. At the peak of the epidemic in 1992, there were 2,332 new HIV diagnoses. Other notable achievements include that no baby has been born with HIV infection in San Francisco since 2005 and health officials estimate that more than 93 percent of those living with HIV know they are infected.

As of June, there are 16,104 San Francisco residents living with HIV infection, according to the Department of Public Health. Those who have fallen to AIDS total 20,196 in San Francisco.

During the first six months of the year, there were 111 new HIV diagnoses, of which 100 were men, nine were female and two were transgender, according to the department’s semi-annual HIV surveillance report. Of the new infections this year, 32 were between the ages of 40 and 49, while 48 were between the ages of 25 to 39. Broken down by race, 46 were white, 15 black, 30 Latino and 16 Asian.

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who attended the announcement, commended the mayor for stepping up local funding when the federal funding was reduced for HIV prevention and care. “But we were playing defense. And we are now playing offense. We are now moving forward. We are doing so well in our getting to zero effort,” Wiener said.

Supervisor David Campos also praised investment while noting that “we will be successful only if we are able to target the most vulnerable among us. That is the challenge.”

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