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New HIV Infections Decline in San Francisco

April 4, 2011

This year marks a decade-long retreat in new HIV cases in San Francisco. Between 2001 and 2011 the city has witnessed a steady decline in new infections. San Francisco health researchers estimate there are 736 new HIV infections each year, according to the latest HIV Consensus Estimates. The city's HIV incidence rate now stands at 0.09%, a 30.8% reduction in the rate since 2006. The city has also seen a 24.6% reduction in the number of cases over the last five years.


Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of HIV prevention, said health officials remain "cautiously optimistic" that HIV cases are in decline. "We can't conclusively make the case that HIV rates are declining. We are still in an endemic state at this point," said Colfax. "There is still much work yet to go."

The majority of San Francisco's new HIV cases remain among men who have sex with men. It is estimated that 585 gay and bisexual men will become HIV-positive this year, most of whom are likely to be in their 30s. Another 49 gay and bisexual men who use injection drugs are expected to contract HIV this year. In total, there are an estimated 15,873 gay and bisexual men living with HIV in the city.

Health officials believe a variety of factors are leading to the continued downward trend. Among those factors are:

  • Continued sero-sorting, where HIV-positive men seek out other HIV-positive men as their sexual partners.
  • The health department's policy of recommending HIV-positive people begin treatment early. It is believed to have led to less viral loads among at-risk populations, reducing the risk of HIV transmission between sex partners of sero-discordant HIV status.
  • Fewer gay men are moving to San Francisco in general, or, once they test HIV-positive elsewhere, they no longer feel the need to relocate to the city. Thus, they are not driving up the city's HIV caseload.
  • As the city's AIDS and HIV population ages -- the majority of new AIDS cases are now among people 50 and older -- they are retiring to other areas such as Palm Springs or Sonoma County.

The total number of new cases among straight men and women, including injection drug users, is estimated at 69. There are 2,012 heterosexual people living with HIV in the city.

There are 583 transgender women now living there with HIV. Overall, the number of people living with HIV in San Francisco is now believed to be 18,576, which results in an HIV prevalence rate of 2.27%.

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This article was provided by Positively Aware. It is a part of the publication Positively Aware. Visit Positively Aware's website to find out more about the publication.
See Also
More HIV Statistics on Western U.S. States

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