San Francisco's New HIV Policy - Immediate Treatment as the Solution

Maria Balilo's picture

People in San Francisco diagnosed with HIV are encouraged to start antiviral treatment immediately. According to researchers, if the city initiated annual screening and early drug treatment, rates of new infection could drop more than 80%. San Francisco is one of the first cities to recommend that everyone who tests positive for HIV start antiviral therapy, regardless of the T-cell count. Existing federal policies encourage people to start treatment only when their T-cell count falls below 500.

Unfortunately, San Francisco's new policy is stirring ethical issues. Although the antiviral drugs decrease the amount of virus in the bloodstream, there are long-term side effects, such as possible kidney damage. The other issue is that getting every one who is HIV-infected to start immediate antiviral therapy would be expensive.

Despite the setbacks, the fact that such politicized and charged issue is infiltrating policy discourse earns progressive points for San Francisco. Any thoughts on this?

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137