The Philadelphia Public Health Department said the city has made enormous improvements in reducing its HIV rates with a 14.3 percent drop in new diagnosis in a one-year-period (2017 to 2018).
According to the yearly HIV Surveillance Report, there are still some concerning areas that officials need to focus on. There are a little more than 19,000 people who have HIV in Philadelphia and another 2,000 who don’t know they have it. The city saw 424 new HIV cases in 2018, a drop from 495 cases in 2017. It continues the steady drop that began in the mid-2000s.
A 35.8 percent drop was seen in gay black men, and there were no disparities in viral suppression among these demographics as well as Hispanics who live with HIV compared to white individuals.
A concerning trend noted in the report was the rise in new HIV diagnoses among people who do use drugs. Since 1991, there has been a steady drop in the city, but a 115 percent increase was noted between 2016 and 2018 (from 33 new cases to 71 new cases).
Thomas Farley, Philadelphia health commissioner, the report shows there has been a remarkable stride in HIV. He said more work needs to be done, especially keeping HIV spreading among drug users and ending the epidemic entirely – a goal that’s now realistic.
Philadelphia looks to decrease its new HIV diagnosis rate by 75 percent within five years, and 90 percent within 10 years. The report puts forth several strategies the city could implement that could help them meet these goals, including helping organizations that are dedicated to doing the same.
Coleman Terrell, AIDS Activities Coordinating Officer director, said the news shows how the city’s collective efforts have helped in the progression of ending HIV in Philadelphia and shown them areas that need improvement. He said there is not a time to rest but continue the work to ensure everybody has access to HIV prevention and care.