The California Department of Public Health rolled out a hefty HIV plan Wednesday with the aim of stopping new cases of the chronic illness statewide.
The plan is a collaboration between the department and local health jurisdictions, including the Sacramento County Department of Public Health. “Getting to zero,” according to the plan, means reaching zero new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths along with no stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV. About 5,000 new HIV diagnoses are made in the state each year.
By 2021, the department hopes to reduce the number of new cases to fewer than 2,500 a year. Other objectives include more HIV testing, getting more at-risk people on PrEP – a new medication for preventing HIV – and getting more newly diagnosed people into regular health care and housing. The state didn’t set a date for eliminating the number of new cases.
In California, men who have sex with men represent the majority of those living with HIV, as well as those newly infected with the virus. People who inject drugs, transgender women, sex workers and people with HIV-positive sex partners are also a significant part of the HIV-infected population.
“This comprehensive plan reinforces the state’s ongoing commitment to address the HIV epidemic,” said Dr. Karen Mark, chief of the statewide Office of AIDS, in a statement. “This commitment includes supporting people living with HIV, reducing the rate of new infections, and recognizing that not all communities have been equally impacted by this epidemic, and making those most at risk a high priority.”