San Francisco resident Randy Silva, 51, is one of many people in The City who has maintained an active lifestyle after being diagnosed with HIV. (Special to S.F. Examiner/Natasha Dangond)

San Francisco resident Randy Silva, 51, is one of many people in The City who has maintained an active lifestyle after being diagnosed with HIV. (Special to S.F. Examiner/Natasha Dangond)

SF records all-time low in HIV infections, deaths

Fourteen years after his death sentence, Randy Silva is in the best shape of his life.

Silva, 51, was diagnosed with HIV in September 2001. In 2007, after suffering a heart attack while hospitalized at San Francisco General Hospital with AIDS-related pneumocystis pneumonia, he was told he had 48 hours to live.
“I expected to die,” he said recently.

But he didn’t. He finished a doctorate in clinical psychology last year. He has an active romantic relationship with his partner, who is 24 — and HIV negative.
And throughout San Francisco, there are more and more people like him.

New HIV infections and deaths of HIV-infected people in The City dropped more than 17 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to the Department of Public Health.
There were 302 new HIV diagnoses last year, and 177 deaths of HIV-infected people, according to the department. That’s down from 371 and 209, respectively, the year before.

Since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began in the 1980s, those numbers are the lowest ever recorded in San Francisco.

The most telling statistic may be this: Since 2012, when the drug Truvada was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an HIV/AIDS prevention drug, new infections have dropped by 30 percent in The City.

The success of Truvada-centered PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is also proof positive for some public health officials that their goal of getting to zero new infections is realistic and achievable.

In addition to increasing awareness and access to PreP as a prevention tool, public health officials tout the wide availability of HIV/AIDS testing and rapid access to antiretroviral treatment via UC San Francisco as key to the significant drop in new infections.

“We are on our way to zero,” said Dr. Susan Buchbinder, director of the health department’s HIV prevention unit. “But we still have a lot to do.”

Specifically, black people have a lower survival rate than other ethnicities, and vulnerable populations like the poor or homeless have a tougher time entering and staying in treatment.

There has also been an increase in new transmissions among youths, “specifically young men of color,” Buchbinder said.

Still, the numbers present a strong message: the overall strategy is working.

“For a while, our infection rates were pretty stubborn,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is openly gay and last year publicly announced he takes Truvada as an HIV-prevention measure. “But we’ve made significant advances in getting people tested and quickly into treatment. All of that together creates a very strong atmosphere for reducing new infections.”

Globally, about 7,000 people are infected with HIV every day, according to the United Nations.

For more information on San Francisco’s goal of zero new HIV infections, visit the SF Department of Public Health’s website. AIDSHIVPrEPSan FranciscoTruvadaUC San Francisco

Just Posted

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sit in a container after being crushed at Smith-Madrone Winery in St. Helena, Calif. on Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Courtesy Smith-Madrone Winery)
‘Champagne problems’ and supply chain nightmares: San Francisco’s wine industry is suffering

‘Everywhere you turn, things that were easy are no longer easy’

A Giants fans hangs his head in disbelief after the Dodgers won the NLDS in a controversial finish to a tight Game 5. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Giants dream season ends at the hands of the Dodgers, 2-1

A masterful game comes down to the bottom of the ninth, and San Francisco came up short

<strong>Workers with Urban Alchemy and the Downtown Streets Team clean at Seventh and Market streets on Oct. 12. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins> </strong>
<ins></ins>
Why is it so hard to keep San Francisco’s streets clean?

Some blame bureaucracy, others say it’s the residents’ fault

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi — seen in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday — touted Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure bill in San Francisco on Thursday. (Stefani Reynolds/The New York Times)
Pelosi touts infrastructure bill as it nears finish line

Climate change, social safety net among major priorities of Democrats’ 10-year funding measure

A lion from Cambodia at the Asian Art Museum, which was acquired from a private collector and dates back to between 1150 and 1225, is one of two pieces identified as a stolen artifact in the leaked Pandora Papers. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Asian Art Museum reckons with Cambodian antiquities of disputed provenance

Pandora Papers revelations accelerate culture shift at museums near and far

Most Read