Statewide Initiative to End AIDS Epidemic Started by California

Advocates seek to eradicate the disease by 2030.

Advocates seek to eradicate the disease by 2030.

California’s Assemblyman Mike A. Gipson kicked off the state’s initiative to end the AIDS epidemic on Friday, August 21, 2015. Advocacy groups and supporters from San Francisco gathered for the hearing wherein participants discussed a comprehensive plan to eradicate the disease by 2030.

“In the last 5 years, scientific breakthroughs in AIDS research have provided remarkable results,” said Gipson in a press release. “Testing methods can now detect the HIV virus months earlier than before. Preventive medication, such as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), has been clinically shown to reduce the likelihood of infection by up to 92%.”

But despite these breakthroughs in treatment, California still experienced 5814 new cases of HIV in 2012. While this is an improvement over previous years, it is still far from the lofty goal of ending the epidemic once and for all, as is the message behind many advocacy groups.

“Our goal is to identify the remaining barriers to achieving what the San Francisco ‘Getting to Zero’ campaign set out to do: zero new infections, zero deaths and zero stigma in California,” Gipson said of the meeting.

The ideas discussed at the meeting traveled back to Sacramento with Gipson to be further discussed with the state legislature in order to create a structure that embraces the needs identified. The state is prepared to increase funding to help high risk groups if need be, and to increase information sharing among advocacy groups and informational centers.

California has a goal of having at least 80% of people living with HIV to be virally suppressed, or having their risk of transmission being brought down to zero. To date, only 45% of people living with the virus in the state of California are virally suppressed.

While California has a long way to go in developing strategies to eradicate the AIDS epidemic, initiatives like San Francisco’s “Getting to Zero” put a high standard on the future of how the disease is dealt with. As the statewide plan develops, those living with HIV/AIDS can expect a positive change in their treatment plans and a higher standard set for adherence.