City awarded $8m for four-year HIV care, prevention project

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded San Francisco $8 million for a four-year project aimed at improving care for people living in the city with HIV, Mayor London Breed announced Thursday.

The grant would contribute $2 million each year over a four-year period to San Francisco’s Project Opt-In, which intends to improve services for people infected with HIV as well as prevention services for high-risk individuals.

San Francisco has one of the highest populations in the U.S. of people living with HIV, with an estimated 15,952 residents infected.

“Over the past three decades, San Francisco has made significant progress toward reducing the number of new HIV infections each year, and improving the available services for people living with HIV,” Breed said in a statement. “As mayor, I remain committed to our goal of getting to zero, which will take hard work. We also know that some segments of our population still suffer disproportionately high rates of HIV infections, like our homeless population. With Project Opt-In, we are taking an important step forward in reaching that goal by providing critical and innovative services.”

In order to improve services for HIV care and prevention, the project would use homeless outreach, intensive case management and other low-threshold support services to transform healthcare delivery and practices with the goal of reducing the long-term need for such services, Breed’s office said.

While the city has made progress in reaching its goal of no new HIV infections, there still appear to be service gaps for certain populations, according to Breed’s office.

In 2017, 14 percent of new HIV cases were homeless individuals. Access to daily HIV medications for homeless individuals presents a challenge, but is necessary for those individuals so they can reduce the level of the virus in their body to undetectable levels, thus reducing the risk of transmission to others.

In 2016, 72 percent of San Franciscans living with HIV had undetectable levels, while only 32 percent of homeless people living with HIV had undetectable levels.

According to the city’s department of public health, San Francisco along with New York were the only two jurisdictions in the U.S. selected to receive top-level funding from the CDC.

-Daniel Montes, Bay City News

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