Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SF DPH: HIV Still Declining;
UCLA Modeler Silent

The February monthly STD surveillance report came out yesterday, and the editorial note says for a recent three-year period, new HIV infections fell. This data is consistent with other figures in recent years from the local health department, documenting HIV infections entering an endemic phase, and into solid drops.

With this good news about continuing drops in new infections, even taking into account the DPH's caveat about the confidence intervals overlapping and researchers saying the declines are not statistically significant, a decline is happening and may help to undermine the hysteria and stigma of UCLA's HIV math model for the city.

UCLA's Sally Blower and colleagues found absolutely nothing good to say about HIV control and prevention here, and with the aid of the university's press office, stigmatized gay men and people with AIDS, with offensive quote:

"Our model showed that what is going on in San Francisco is very complicated — but in a nutshell, it is due to the bug, the drugs and sex."

What the new local report shows is not complicated at all -- HIV is falling in San Francisco, but UCLA researchers in their ivory tower won't recognize this fact, because it doesn't fit into their apocalyptic and questionable findings. If Blower and colleagues were respectfully engaging the local community, we could have a fruitful discussion about all of these issues, but such engagement is not possible when Blower is more concerned with her academic career.

It's my sincere wish that the numbers in the new report receive the proper attention they deserve from other gay bloggers, local media and our local HIV advisory councils.

From the latest monthly STD report, emphases mine:

The SF DPH HIV Epidemiology Section, in collaboration with the CDC, has developed a HIV incidence surveillance system to estimate the number of new or incident infections occurring each year in SF.

Blood from standard HIV tests from newly diagnosed HIV cases is retested using a laboratory assay (called BED) that classifies individuals as having either a recently acquired HIV infection (within the past six months) or a longer-standing infection. Results from this test are used with a statistical adjustment for HIV testing patterns to calculate HIV incidence.

Applying this methodology in SF in 2006, 2007 and 2008, we find that the number of new HIV infections is declining.

In 2006, the estimate of new HIV infections was 935 (95% CI 658 – 1,212). In 2007, the estimate dropped to 792 (95% CI 552 – 1,033) and in 2008 the estimated number of new infections dropped to 621 (95% CI 462 -782).

While this decline is encouraging and corresponds with a similar drop in number of new HIV diagnoses, the confidence intervals overlap indicating that the declines are not statistically significant.

We will continue to use the HIV incidence surveillance system to produce a population based HIV incidence estimate each year. We remain optimistic that these declines in HIV incidence in SF will continue.

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