Wednesday, November 29, 2006

SF DPH Releases HIV Serosorting Slides Showing ...

Earlier this month a representative from the SF health department made a presentation on serosorting at a forum hosted by the Stop AIDS Project, in which he basically approved the practice of HIV poz guys having sex only with other poz men, as an effective means of preventing the virus from being spread to an HIV negative man.

The DPH expert used thirteen slides in his presentation, and after I filed a Sunshine Act request for them, the department shared the slides with me. All of them are posted here, in the hope they will add to the community-wide discussion about serosorting. Neither the health department nor the Stop AIDS Project post the slides on their site, and I'm not sure why they think gay and HIV activists shouldn't have easy access to the slides.

For me, the most important slide to consider is number 7, which shows new HIV infections between 1996 and 2003 of people getting tested at clinics, where the bulk of SF's HIV tests are administered, and the peak happened in 1999. The rate since then has pretty much continued on a downward trend and it is very likely due to serosorting.

Slide 7 also shows a red line representing new syphilis infections starting to climb in 1999 and reaching skyward. What's not footnoted by DPH is the fact that in 1999 the CDC launched a national syphilis elimination effort, one that significantly drove up the number of syphilis tests performed and also enhanced surveillance.

I must further note that even though SF health officials and AIDS groups were citing the surging syphilis rate and equating it with a supposed jump in HIV infections, that clearly was not the case.

Another fascinating aspect to the data in slide 7 is that the HIV incidence flattening/dropping in recent years occurred even though those same SF HIV experts were sounding alarm after alarm about barebacking, an outbreak of adult male shigellosis, bug chasing, the emergence of Lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV), gift giving parties, the spread of a nasty multi-drug resistant staph infection, an explosion of meth use, a rise in male rectal gonorrhea (due to increased testing and surveillance), the climbing syphilis numbers, and a few other scary things I'm forgetting at the moment.

One thing the DPH presenter did not address in his talk is how the heck HIV in SF could stabilize and fall, at a time when the health department saw a new burgeoning gay male sexual health crisis around every corner.

One last point, serosorting, which many HIV control expert agree is curbing new infections, has not been developed, endorsed or actively promoted by HIV prevention groups, the CDC and local health departments. Kind of says something; that if HIV poz gays are left alone to create safer ways of loving, without the interference of the prevention groups and their hostile social marketing campaigns, HIV pozzies do just fine, thank you very much, at reducing HIV rates.

Here are the slides from DPH:

No. 1

No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

No. 7

(See my comments above on this slide.)

No. 8

No. 9

No. 10

No. 11

No. 12

No. 13

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