More New Yorkers with HIV receiving care and achieving viral suppression
November 29, 2018 — The de Blasio Administration announced the annual number of new HIV diagnoses in New York City has reached an all-time low, with 2,157 New Yorkers getting newly diagnosed last year. According to data from the 2017 HIV Surveillance Annual Report (PDF), newly diagnosed cases declined last year, down 5.4 percent from 2016. The number of new HIV diagnoses in New York City has decreased by 64 percent since HIV case reporting began. New York City is on track to achieve its ambitious NYC Ending the Epidemic goals by 2020.
"Our City has been on the frontlines of the HIV and AIDS epidemic for decades," said Mayor de Blasio. "Reaching our goal to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020 in New York City is a good start, but we won't rest until we eradicate the epidemic once and for all."
"As we commemorate World AIDS Day, we remember those who lost their battle to AIDS and those who continue to fight it," said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. "As someone who is HIV positive, I'm proud to lead a Council that has made the fight against AIDS/HIV a priority, including investing $6.9 million for Ending the Epidemic in 2020. Although we have made great progress in this fight, the battle is far from over. We will continue to fight for all New Yorkers affected by this disease."
In addition to tracking new HIV diagnoses in the city, the Health Department estimates the number of new HIV infections. The estimated number of new HIV infections in New York City also continues to decline, with a 35 percent decrease among men who have sex with men (MSM) and a 36 percent decrease overall since 2013. New York City continues to expedite connection to care for people newly diagnosed with HIV, while estimated new infections continue to decrease at a historic, accelerated pace due to a combination of prevention strategies (including HIV treatment, pre- and post- exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP and PEP), and NYC Condom distribution.
"We are very energized by the City's progress in reducing HIV diagnosis and are laser-focused on reaching our goal of ending the epidemic by 2020," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "New Yorkers have come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and the stigma around it, and we will not rest until every New Yorker has the education and resources to prevent and treat this disease."
"New York City is achieving the Ending the Epidemic vision supported by the investment made by the de Blasio Administration and City Council to enhance HIV-related services for treatment and prevention," said Acting Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. "Although we have seen declines in groups such as Black and Latina women, we must continue to address that men who have sex with men of color are disproportionately affected by HIV. I would like to thank the Mayor and The City Council for their unwavering dedication in making sure that HIV rates continue to decline in New York City."
According to the report, from 2016 to 2017, the number of new HIV diagnoses among women, including cisgender and transgender women, decreased by 11.6 percent, with declines among Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black women (28 percent, 21 percent, and 8 percent declines, respectively). From 2016 to 2017, the number of new HIV diagnoses among men, including cisgender and transgender men, decreased by 3.6 percent, with those among MSM remaining stable. MSM, particularly MSM of color, continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. In 2017, of all men newly diagnosed with HIV in New York City, 74 percent were MSM; of all new diagnoses among MSM, 73 percent were among Black or Latino MSM. The Health Department's data also show a 6.7 percent decrease in new HIV diagnoses among transgender individuals in New York City from 2016 to 2017.
More New Yorkers with HIV are receiving care and achieving viral suppression. In 2017, 80 percent of people were linked to care within 30 days of their HIV diagnosis, compared to 65 percent in 2013; and among people receiving HIV medical care in New York City in 2017, 85 percent were virally suppressed, compared to 79 percent in 2013. This progress is especially important in light of "Undetectable = Untransmittable," or "U = U," the evidence-based finding that individuals with HIV who are taking antiretroviral medicines and maintain an undetectable viral load for at least six months do not sexually transmit HIV.
"This historic low in new HIV diagnosis demonstrates that we are well on our way to ending the HIV epidemic in New York City," said Deputy Commissioner for the Health Department's Division of Disease Control Dr. Demetre Daskalakis. "We are diagnosing people with HIV earlier and linking them to care, preventing disease progression while harnessing the power of treatment to prevent transmission. The power of 'U = U' combined with continued promotion and use of PrEP, PEP, and condoms has set us on the trajectory to achieve our goal of ending the epidemic in New York City by 2020. Our success inspires the nation and the world as a demonstration of what community activism, science, and political will can and do achieve."
"Our 2017 HIV surveillance data show that we are making real progress in reducing new HIV diagnoses in New York City and improving viral suppression among New Yorkers with HIV," said Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Dr. Oni Blackstock. "But we must double down on our efforts to ensure that this progress is felt evenly and equitably across all communities – particularly those that continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. And this cannot happen unless we expand our sexual health toolkit to include not only NYC Condoms, PrEP and PEP, HIV and STI testing and treatment, and promotion of the 'U = U' message, but also a commitment to fighting institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the many other forms of stigma that put people at greater risk of HIV infection and, for people with HIV, put care and treatment further out of reach. We cannot end the epidemic among New Yorkers without ending the epidemic among all New Yorkers."
"With HIV diagnoses in New York City at an all-time historic low, we're one step closer to ending the epidemic ending the epidemic once and for all," said State Senator Brad Hoylman. "I'm extremely grateful to the leaders making this possible, including, Mayor de Blasio, Acting Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control Dr. Demetre Daskalakis and the multitude of advocates and elected officials with whom I have the honor of working to solve this public health crisis."
"The historic low numbers of new HIV diagnoses in our City are a clear testament to the comprehensive strategies our City has implemented in order to eradicate this disease," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "It is critical that we continue working together to ensure access to resources and services to prevent new infections, especially in minority communities who are still being disproportionately impacted by HIV, while improving the quality of life of those afflicted by the disease."
"New York City continues to be a leader in the effort to end AIDS and HIV," said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. "With this week's announcement that the number of new infections in the city has reached an all-time low since reporting began in 2001, and declined more than 5 percent in just a year, New York is on a path to ending the HIV epidemic in our lifetimes. The City's success shows that if we engage the community, expand access to care and prevention efforts, and ensure medications are affordable, we can achieve things no one thought possible just ten years ago."
"New HIV diagnoses are at an all-time low thanks to our city's investment in HIV education and prevention," said Council Member Chair Daniel Dromm, Chair of the LGBT Caucus. "I celebrate these results with the understanding that our work is not over: young men of color are still disproportionately affected by HIV. I will continue to work alongside advocates, service providers and my colleagues in government to end the epidemic once and for all."
"It is profoundly good news that the number of new HIV diagnoses in New York City has reached an all-time low this year, and that the vast majority of New Yorkers with HIV are being rapidly connected to the care they need," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women. "The Health Department is to be commended for its incredible efforts to combat this disease and ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds have access to care. The partnership between the Health Department, Mayor's Office, City Council, healthcare providers, and community-based organizations has made all the difference, and we will not stop until the day all of our communities see an end to HIV-related deaths."
"Today's announcement from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding new HIV diagnoses in 2017 illustrates that we are slowly — but surely — getting closer to the finish line of ending the AIDS epidemic," said Sharen I. Duke, Executive Director/CEO of Alliance for Positive Change. "As someone who has been on the frontlines of the HIV/AIDS epidemic with Alliance for Positive Change since the earliest years of the crisis, it's hard to capture the emotion that many of us in the community feel about the progress we've achieved through education, treatment, and medical advances — all to ensure that people can lead healthier, self-sustaining lives. We are proud to partner with our many allies at the Health Department."
These surveillance data illustrate New York City's continued progress towards ending the epidemic of HIV. In 2015, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $23 million investment to reduce the number of new infections, improve viral suppression rates and other health outcomes among people with HIV, strengthen the City's sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention infrastructure, and dismantle HIV stigma – all using a racial justice and health equity approach. Since then, the City has transformed its eight Sexual Health Clinics, all of which currently offer low- to no-cost state-of-the-art STI and HIV services, including STI and HIV testing, emergency PEP, PrEP initiation and navigation, JumpstART (immediate initiation of HIV treatment with navigation to longer-term care), and counseling services. Anyone 12 or older can receive services at a Sexual Health Clinic, regardless of immigration status, insurance coverage, or ability to pay.
This year, the Health Department launched two sexual health marketing campaigns encouraging New Yorkers to consider PrEP as part of their sexual health plan: "Living Sure", which focuses on cisgender and transgender women, and "¡Listos!", the agency's first awareness campaign to be conceived of and largely released in Spanish, which focuses on Latinos. The Health Department then launched the second installment of "¡Listos!", which promotes not only PrEP, but also HIV testing and treatment, with messaging tailored to resonate with Latino MSM. These follow the Health Department's Be Sure, Play Sure, Stay Sure campaigns, which encourage New Yorkers to know their HIV status and STI status, choose the safer sex combination that works for them, and take medication to treat or prevent HIV.
In addition to the 2017 HIV Surveillance Annual Report, the Health Department released new slide sets and tables updated with 2017 surveillance data. In October 2018, the Health Department released Hepatitis A, B and C in New York City: 2017 Annual Report, which shows that as of January 1, 2017, 4,436 people were living with HIV and current hepatitis C infection (HCV) in New York City, the majority of whom are people of color. People with HIV/HCV coinfection are at high risk for serious liver disease, liver cancer, and premature death. In 2016, the Health Department launched Project SUCCEED (Scaling Up Coinfection Care and Eliminating Ethnic Disparities), which promotes HCV screening and linkage to care and treatment for HCV among people with HIV.