SF DPH/NASTAD: New HIV Stats Plummet 33%
No matter how long I live and keep tabs on the HIV/AIDS stats in San Francisco, I will never understand the extreme and absolute unconscionable reluctance to inform the gay community and public at large about any glimmer of hope in controlling the epidemic, not to mention significant and laudable drops in new infections.
Longtime readers of this blog know I've written dozens and dozens of posts on SF DPH epi stats showing declines of HIV/AIDS since the start of my blog.
How naive of me to think that bringing attention to the success of really controlling a viral epidemic, in the form of DPH's very own epi surveillance reports and various studies, would somehow convince DPH, and its partners in the AIDS nonprofit world and at the CDC, to share the plummeting level of new HIV infections with the media and the public. The thinking on their part seems to be, "Quietly acknowledge HIV falling, with as little fanfare as possible, certainly nothing like the full-court press we engage in when HIV is surging." Such thinking shows no signs of abating.
At the joint HIV Prevention Planning Council/Ryan White CARE Act Council meeting on February 8, the monthly report from the cochairs of the prevention council noted the following
San Francisco was featured in the February 2007 addition [sic] of the NASTAD HIV Prevention Bulletin “Focus on the Diverse Epidemics in the U.S.” You can download a copy of the bulletin at http://www.nastad.org/Publications/bulletin.aspx .
Bland and short description, that I of course had to read, despite not a hint that the article, co-written by the interim HIV prevention DPH chief Ms. Tracy Packer, is a superb presentation about San Francisco's current state of tumbling HIV rates, our unique local gay/queer/MSM communities and effective prevention.
Oh, and this rather enormous chunk of incredibly fantastic news about HIV in America's AIDS Model City: New HIV infections have nose-dived a whopping 33 percent.
From NASTAD's February report, on page 10
While there was a ten percent decrease in total estimated new [HIV] cases, this seemingly modest decrease is actually a much greater prevention success than it appears.
From 2001 to 2006, the estimated number of gay men living in San Francisco increased from 46,800 to 58,343.
The increase was likely due to real growth in the gay community and, potentially, in part the result of an underestimation of the population size in 2001.
When the effect of the increase in the population size of MSM is taken into account, new infections have decreased by an estimated 33 percent. [Emphasis added]
There will be a screaming queen out on the streets tonight, and it will be yours truly, shouting, "Congratulations, gay men! You've managed amidst great homo-hatred and fear and disease to contain an epidemic, and with the aid of HIV drugs and the community-created prevention method of serosorting, actually fully and unquestionably reversed an epidemic. And gay men deserve to hear this news from their health leaders!"
Thirty-three percent is nothing to sneeze at, especially a few short weeks after SF DPH reported a 16 percent drop in new HIV infections at City Clinic last year
All the double-drops of new HIV stats here are truly magnificent!
I love gay men and to a large degree I can't blame them for totally tuning out the SF DPH/CDC/AIDS Inc bureaucrats, and their shameless manipulations of stats in the past to increase federal funds and stigmatizing of our sexuality and demonizing PWAs with active libidos, and for generally no longer watchdogging the SF DPH and its stats.
But I also wish my brothers would rekindle their activist interests and recognize the value of demanding SF DPH do a better job of informing us of things like the 33 percent HIV drop, only noted so far in NASTAD's publication.
The reason why is crucial to enhancing a healthy homosexual community.
Regular dissemination and active promotion of HIV stats, and papers from SF DPH leaders giving an ever-brighter picture of controlling what used to be an AIDS epidemic, is as vital to our community's overall good health as is taking a daily multivitamin.
And the question of why the joint HIV/AIDS councils' meeting last week heard no mention of this 33 percent drop and there was no discussion about it, must be raised.
Hey, SF DPH AIDS Office employees! Think about ending your coy approach to the stats and your NASTAD report.