September 22, 2017 at 10:00 am EDT | by Staff reports
Chicago hopes to eliminate HIV over next decade
HIV diagnosis, meningitis, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Tony Webster; courtesy Flickr)

CHICAGO — Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan this week to eliminate new HIV diagnoses in the city and state over the next decade, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

The partnership between the city and state Departments of Public Health, 10 community organizations and hospitals is appropriately called “Getting to Zero.”

It has two main goals are to increase the use of prevention medications among the most vulnerable to the disease and ensure that 70 percent of all people living with HIV receive the medication they need to reduce the “viral load” that officials said “significantly reduces the risk of transmission.”

The plan is patterned after similar efforts in San Francisco and the state of Washington, the Chicago Sun Times reports.

Chicago has gone a long way toward reducing the spread of HIV.

In 2002, the number of newly diagnosed cases spiked at 1,850. Since 2013, it has been less than 1,000 a year. Less than half of those living with HIV are also “virally suppressed.” That means they’re less likely to transmit the virus.

By increasing distribution and daily use of PrEP, a pill that dramatically reduces the risk of becoming infected with HIV, and increasing “adherence to antiretroviral treatment among those living with HIV from 50 percent to 70 percent,” the hope is HIV in Chicago will someday reach a point where it can no longer sustain itself,” the Chicago Sun Times reports, citing officials.

Last year, the city invested $3 million in community partners to increase education and access to PrEP for communities at greatest risk. They include “gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men of color and transgender women,” the Sun Times reports.

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