Supervisors Push to Eliminate HIV, Stigma From San Francisco

Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos held a hearing Wednesday morning on the status of the city's "Getting to Zero" effort, with the goal of eliminating new HIV infections - and stigmas around the disease - in San Francisco.

The supervisors' goal is to explore the city’s current strategies to curb the spread of the disease, what steps need to be taken to “Get to Zero” by ending HIV infections in San Francisco, and the current state of HIV/AIDS funding in light of continued federal cuts. The first target is to slash the number of new infections by 90 percent by 2020. There's an estimated 18,000 people in San Francisco living with HIV. They also need to figure out how to provide low cost drugs to help people fight off the disease.

"I think there's nothing more important than giving individuals a chance to live like everyone else," said Bill Hirsh, of the AIDS Legal Referral Panel.

In September 2014,  Wiener made an unusually personal announcement for a politician, telling the world that "each morning, I take a pill called Truvada to protect me from becoming infected with HIV."

Wiener, who is gay, was thought to be among the first public U.S. figures in recent history to make such a disclosure. He said he hopes the attention his case generates helps put an end to the negative stigma the drug carries for some critics who believe its use signals and promotes promiscuity.

The pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), often referred to by its brand name Truvada, is the first drug approved by the FDA for preventing the spread of HIV. And San Francisco supervisors are trying to figure out how to pay for the drug for those who need it.

The San Francisco Getting to Zero Consortium was established in 2014 to move San Francisco toward being the first city to achieve the UNAIDS vision of “Getting to Zero”: zero new HIV infections, zero HIV deaths and zero HIV stigma.

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