Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ) released new HIV/AIDS-related statistics on Dec. 1. The numbers show that there were 839 new HIV cases in 2016, which the agency said is the fewest number of new cases in 15 years and represent a 55 percent overall decrease in new cases since 2001.
In her introduction to the report, CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita attributed what she called a "monumental decline" to three factors: increased use of medication treating individuals who have HIV; increased use of medications that prevent new infections; and increased outreach to educate people in the community about such resources.
CDPH partnered with community advocates in 2017 to launch its Getting to Zero campaign, which would in effect in eliminate all new infections in the city by 2027. Morita detailed the effort in her letter.
"First, we will increase the number of people living with HIV who are virally suppressed," she said. "Currently, just under half of Chicagoans living with HIV have achieved viral suppression. Second, we will increase the number of HIV-vulnerable people who successfully use PrEP. Currently, approximately only 10 percent of people who can benefit from PrEP are using it. By increasing both viral suppression and PrEP use by 20 percent in the next 10 years, we will end the HIV epidemic within our lifetime."
Persons whose HIV is virally suppressed have virtually no likelihood of infecting their sexual partners. Non-infected individuals taking PrEPpre-exposure prophylaxis, usually available as the oral medication Truvadahave little chance of becoming infected; the medication has been shown to be over 90 percent effective in in preventing infection.
But the report points to disparities that still concern CDPH officials and advocates. "Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men, particularly Black and Latinx men, bear a disproportionate burden of HIV," Morita noted. "Among women, Black women represented nearly 81 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2016."
According to the report, about 23,824 Chicagoans had been diagnosed with HIV through 2015 and were living with HIV in 2016. Furthermore, the highest rates of new HIV infection diagnoses in 2016 were for individuals residing in Douglas, Edgewater,
Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, North Lawndale, Rogers Park, Washington Park, West Garfield Park, and Uptown. The highest rates of persons living with HIV were in Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Uptown.
The complete report is at www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/cdph/HIV_STI/HIV_STISurveillanceReport2016_12012017.pdf .