San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell announced $4.2 million in additional funds for HIV/AIDS programs to help replenish local and federal funds for critical services over the next two years. He made the announcement on Wednesday at Ward 86, UC San Francisco’s HIV clinic at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital – the country’s oldest dedicated HIV clinic.
“We are closer than ever to getting to our goals for HIV: zero new infections, zero deaths and zero stigma,” said Farrell. “We’ve accomplished this through strategic investments in prevention, treatment and social services that will continue in San Francisco.”Farrell was referring to the city’s goals initiated by Getting to Zero SF, the citywide effort to eliminate HIV. The collaboration encourages community-based organizations, the Department of Public Health, and UCSF, among others, to work together to increase access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) to protect against infection, to initiate treatment immediately after diagnosis, and to retain those already in care.
The new budget includes $1.4 million to replenish expiring funds for Getting to Zero to support outreach, prevention and treatment programs for people experiencing the greatest HIV disparities, including African-American and Latino men, youth and transgender women and homeless individuals.
In 2016, new HIV diagnoses in San Francisco reached a record low: 223, a 16 percent decrease from 2015. Infections have continued to decline since the epidemic’s peak in San Francisco in 1992.
Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, former communications director of UCSF’s AIDS Research Institute and co-founder of Getting to Zero, said he is confident the funds will be helpful. “Getting this funding to sustain our effort is huge,” said Sheehy. “There are communities we're not reaching in terms of testing, treating and getting on PrEP.”
The budget also includes $2.8 million to backfill funding for disease surveillance and prevention programs, HIV testing and syringe access and disposal programs. The future of these programs was threatened by federal cuts.
Diane Havlir, MD, chief of UCSF’s HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine Division and co-founder of Getting to Zero, said the funding will be key to continued progress in the fight to eliminate HIV. “This [funding] will be critical for success of those programs,” she said. “It reflects the values of our city and [the funds] will benefit the citizens of San Francisco and the HIV community around the world.”