San Francisco Might Lower Estimate of Annual Number of New HIV Cases After Studies Find Lower Rates Among MSM

San Francisco public health officials within a month are planning to meet with a panel of HIV/AIDS experts to discuss lowering the city's official estimate of annual new HIV cases because of the results of three new analyses that show a significant reduction in the spread of the virus among men who have sex with men, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. City epidemiologists since 2001 have estimated that about 1,000 new HIV infections occur each year in San Francisco, but a CDC study released last month found San Francisco's HIV incidence rate among MSM has nearly halved in the last four years. The study, based on a survey of 365 MSM who were tested in the city, found an annual incidence rate of 1.2%, compared with city epidemiologists' previous estimate of 2.2%. The study led the San Francisco Department of Public Health's Office of AIDS to analyze data sets collected by the Stop AIDS Project and surveys of new cases at city clinics, both of which indicated a similar decrease in the number of new HIV cases. Although reasons for the decline may not be known for many years, Mitch Katz, the city's health director, said it is likely that effective antiretroviral drugs have reduced the viral load in HIV-positive MSM who are still having unprotected sex and that prevention messages are working (Russell/Lelchuk, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).

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