Saturday, September 22, 2012

New SF DPH HIV Stats Show . . . ?

(The green line illustrates HIV diagnoses.)

At the August meeting of the HIV Prevention Planning Council, an epidemiological report was presented by Sharon Pipkin of the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Click here to view the full presentation. I wasn't in attendance, but I've looked at the PowerPoint slides Pipkin showed to the council and the most interesting was slide Number Six, pictured.

The latest HIV stats show continuing declines, even taking into account tardy reporting from testing sites and that figures can slightly rise, the rate of new infections trends downward. Thirty years into the AIDS crisis, San Francisco clearly has HIV controlled and the epidemic contracts further with practically every new epi report, and this is good news worth reporting.

In response to my questions regarding the stats, Pipkin said via email:

Thank you for your interest and inquiry into the HIV surveillance data presented at the August HPPC. Yes, the green line on slide number 6 represents newly diagnosed and reported HIV infections by year. Please note that case counts presented for recent years, such as 2011, are subject to reporting delays and are very likely to be revised upwards.

Resource-rich San Francisco has all the communication devices and reporting laws imaginable to maintain accurate and current stats, and the DPH folks should occasionally put aside their reluctance to come out and clearly say the infections are down.

After acknowledging the drop, at-risk and HIV positive gay men should be given a pat on the collective back for practicing effective prevention. We've endured three decades of SF DPH screaming with alarm about second and third waves, alleged sub-Saharan levels of transmission, complacency and prevention fatigue, and very rare times of outright praise for reducing infections and taking care of ourselves and our brothers.

Let's keep those HIV figures going down!

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