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SF Supe calls for more aggressive efforts to treat, suppress HIV

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Supervisor Jeff Sheehy today (right) joined Amsterdam Deputy Mayor Eric van der Burg in calling for more aggressive measures to treat and suppress HIV.

Supervisor Jeff Sheehy joined the mayor of Amsterdam on Monday in calling for San Francisco to get every single person in San Francisco with HIV aware of their status, treated and in control of the virus.

San Francisco is one of 16 Fast-Track cities that has been participating in the United Nation’s 90-90-90 goal to end HIV by 2030.

This goal aims for 90 percent of people with HIV to know their health status, be in treatment for HIV and, finally, to successfully suppress the virus.

“We both say that’s not enough,” Eric van der Burg, deputy mayor of Amsterdam, said at a news conference with Sheehy today. “Supervisor Sheehy and the city of San Francisco were the first to tell them we’re going to zero.”

Sheehy, who is running for reelection to his District 8 supervisorial seat in June, wants to set the bar higher so The City reaches zero deaths and zero new diagnoses of HIV at a faster rate.

“We have the tools to end the epidemic,” Sheehy said.

One of The City’s “Getting to Zero” goals has been surpassed, as recent data shows that 93 percent of people with HIV in San Francisco are aware of their status.

But according to the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, only 64 percent of people with the virus get treatment after being diagnosed and only 74 percent of people with HIV achieved viral suppression within a year of diagnosis.

Although officials hope to eventually reach the 100 percent goal, it is not the current city policy.

“Once we hit 90 percent we will definitely go for 100 percent,” Rachael Kagan, San Francisco Department of Public Health spokesperson said.

Van der Burg, reiterated the progress that both cities have made but said the remaining part of the HIV community is the hardest to reach.

“The next step is to drive our epidemic all the way down to zero and we’re at the hardest part now,” Sheehy said.

One of the largest issues for San Francisco is the number of people who are transmitting the disease through needle injections.

Nearly half of the women who contracted the virus last year reported that they were injecting drug users, according to health department data. A total of 897 men and women transmitted HIV through needles last year alone.

Sheehy, the city’s first HIV-positive supervisor, noted that Amsterdam, which has a similar population to San Francisco, has only 150 homeless people and has eliminated HIV infections from injecting drug use.

“There are no infections from injections in Amsterdam,” Sheehy said. “They have broken the back of their heroin epidemic and we’re still at the early stages of addressing it.”

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