California: San Francisco AIDS Foundation Seeks 50 Percent Cut in HIV by 2015

Cutting the city's annual tally of 800 to 1,000 new HIV infections in half by 2015 is the goal recently set by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Toward that end, SFAF wants all residents ages 13-64 to know their serostatus, and all HIV-positive people to receive appropriate primary care and treatment.

"If people know their HIV status and people who have HIV are receiving appropriate care, then infection rates will go down," Mark Cloutier, SFAF's CEO, told more than 400 people at its annual leadership dinner on May 7. "Even in a sea of economic tidal waves, cutting infection rates in half is our number-one priority."

The city Department of Public Health had hoped to accomplish the same 50 percent reduction between 2003 and 2008; that goal was not achieved. However, DPH did oversee a reduction of 10 percent, and city HIV cases have remained flat for nearly a decade. The city's HIV Prevention Planning Council is expected to include a similar goal of halving infections in the new five-year plan it will announce later this year, said Dr. Grant Colfax, DPH's HIV prevention director.

Halving infections assumes in part that ongoing clinical trials prove the viability of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among high-risk populations. Results from PrEP studies, in which HIV-negative participants take antiretrovirals to prevent infection, could be released as early as June. In addition, City Clinic and the SFAF-funded Magnet clinic in the Castro are using ribonucleic acid (RNA) testing to discover the most recently acquired HIV infections.

SFAF's goals will also be partly determined by the May 19 special election, as ballot measures to shore up the state budget also impact public health funding. Some substance abuse and mental health services could be cut under the health department's plan to balance its budget. The city is required to have a signed balanced budget by June 30.