SAN FRANCISCO, June 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Newly-appointed White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Douglas M. Brooks today visited the sexual health clinic operated by San Francisco AIDS Foundation in the Castro neighborhood to underscore the importance of knowing one's HIV status in conjunction with National HIV Testing Day. Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano also announced the purchase of a new mobile HIV testing unit for San Francisco. The new testing unit will dramatically expand HIV testing efforts citywide, enabling the foundation to offer more than 1,000 additional tests annually, especially in hard-hit neighborhoods that can be difficult to reach. The mobile unit, which is estimated to come online later this year, was made possible with support from Gilead Sciences and Chevron.
"While it is true that HIV testing alone will not lead us to an AIDS-free Generation, it is also true that implementation of routine—and where appropriate, targeted—testing efforts are the immutable keystone to achieving our task of finding, and bringing into care, the 16% of Americans who are HIV-positive but unaware of their status," said Brooks. "A day devoted to HIV testing also provides us with an opportunity to normalize the practice and diminish the stigmatization related to testing activities."
There is roughly one new HIV infection in San Francisco every day, and more than 7,000 infections annually in California. Currently 1.1 million Americans are living with HIV. Gay and bisexual men and African-Americans continue to bear the brunt of new HIV infections. The foundation's Castro clinic, Magnet, provides more than 15,000 HIV tests and STI screenings every year to gay and bisexual men, who represent 85% of new HIV infections in San Francisco.
"Even one new HIV infection is one too many," said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "National HIV Testing Day is an important reminder for people to know their status, but our prevention and care efforts continue year-round. Every day the foundation provides free tests in communities with the greatest need. Now we are more committed than ever to bringing down the rates of new infections by expanding our testing efforts this year, thanks to remarkable support from our loyal corporate partners who really stepped up to join us in this effort."
Giuliano announced $175,000 in funding from Gilead Sciences and Chevron—both long involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS—which will aid the foundation in its purchase of the new unit. In addition to HIV testing, it will provide screenings for sexually transmitted infections, and enhanced services for newly-diagnosed individuals, linking them to medical care, support and treatment.
San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose district includes the Castro neighborhood, got a rapid HIV test today at Magnet, along with Giuliano, as a way to encourage all people in San Francisco to get tested for HIV and know their status so they can take care of their health.
San Francisco Department of Public Health recommends sexually active people get tested for HIV and STIs at least every six months, or more frequently depending on sexual activity. Magnet offers services for gay & bisexual men Monday through Saturday from 11:00am to 6:00pm, and until 9:00pm Wednesday through Friday. Follow @testmeSF to see when the mobile testing van is coming to a neighborhood near you. For more information about HIV testing visit www.sfaf.org or www.sfhiv.org.
About San Francisco AIDS Foundation
No city experienced epidemic levels of HIV faster than San Francisco. At San Francisco AIDS Foundation, we work to end the epidemic where it first took hold, and eventually everywhere. Established in 1982, our mission is the radical reduction of new infections in San Francisco. Through education, advocacy, and direct services for prevention and care, we are confronting HIV in communities most vulnerable to the disease. We refuse to accept that HIV transmission is inevitable.
SOURCE San Francisco AIDS Foundation