On Wednesday, May 24 at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Farrell announced the $4.2 million would be used for syringe access, outreach programs, and HIV services amongst other programs.
Members of Getting to Zero, an initiative started in 2014, aims to eliminate new HIV infections and have zero HIV-associated deaths by 2025. $1.4 million of Farrell’s budget will go towards Getting to Zero to compensate losses of expiring funds.
Getting to Zero uses its resources to help those struggling with AIDs, prep those who are not yet exposed to HIV, and quickly find treatment for those recently diagnosed with AIDs.
According to the Mayor’s Office, 16,000 people living in SF have HIV and 26 percent of those are over 60.
“We have made remarkable advances in reducing HIV infections and improving the lives of people living with HIV, but we must continue to fight against this ongoing public health threat,” Farrell said. “I am committed to fighting this disease, and am ensuring that our local government maintains funding levels for critical programs.”
Aware of how HIV/AIDs can specifically harm minorities due to economic disparity and discrimination, Farrell dedicated part of the budget to continuing programs that prioritize Latinx, African American, and trans women’s needs. The money will also assist homeless people with HIV/AIDs.
Barbara Garcia, the San Francisco Health Director noted how minority groups need more attention despite the general decrease in these diseases.
“We won’t [reach our goal of zero cases] if we don’t fix the disparities that impact African American, Latino and homeless people in our city. This funding boosts our ability to reach these communities and tailor outreach, prevention and treatment to meet their needs,” she said.
Another $2.8 million will go towards prevention programs and medical research, such as analyzing current HIV/AIDs data and increasing syringe access.
San Francisco’s battle against HIV/AIDs can be remembered as early as the 1980s. During the height of the epidemic, it was reported that 2,332 people were diagnosed with HIV. In 2016, the number of new HIV infections in the city is at a low of 38, signaling that Getting to Zero members are close to their goal.
Dr. Diane Havlir, chair of the UCSF Division of HIV/AIDs at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, said Farrell’s budget is needed for their efforts against HIV.
“We are enormously grateful for this investment which is smart, strategic and reflects San Francisco’s commitment to the health of its community,” Havlir said. “Without this funding, our momentum in Getting to Zero San Francisco would be lost. With it, our goals remain within reach.”