New York City reached a historic milestone in the fight against HIV, and they did it two years ahead of schedule. It’s all part of a wider, international program through the United Nations that seeks to eliminate HIV through identification and treatment.
There are 37.9 million people worldwide living with HIV, and one out of every five people are unaware of their status. The UNAIDS 90-90-90 is an ambitious global program that seeks to remedy this situation with three primary goals: 90 percent of all people with HIV are aware of their status, 90 percent of all people living with HIV are receiving treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment are virally suppressed (which means they’re “undetectable” and it’s impossible to transmit HIV).
The recent announcement by Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that as of 2018, 93 percent had been diagnosed, 90 percent are on treatment, and 92 percent of people receiving treatment are virally suppressed.
“Years of hard work and determination has put New York front and center in the global fight against HIV/AIDS,” said de Blasio in a press release. “With more New Yorkers receiving treatment than ever, the day of zero diagnoses is closer than ever.”
New York City is part of the Fast-Track Cities sub-initiative, a global partnership of more than 300 cities and municipalities worldwide working to meet the 90-90-90 goals by 2020. The self-proclaimed capital of the world used available data from 2018 to determine that they were the first U.S. Fast Track city to reach that important milestone.
“New York City is charting a path to zero new diagnoses,” Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot observed. “The roadmap to ending the epidemic includes celebrating healthy sexuality, making PrEP available for those who want it and fighting against the racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia that drive transmission. We will end this epidemic through unity, education and advocacy in partnership with activists.”
New York City uses progressive, real-world strategies and tactics to proactively deal with the crisis. The city-wide HIV testing initiative New York Knows has grown to the nation’s largest. Using community and faith-based organizations, hospitals, businesses, and colleges and universities, the initiative has conducted over 2.5 million tests since its launch in 2014.
The results have been nothing less than astounding. According to the 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report from the New York City Health Department, the number of new persons living with HIV in 2018 fell below 2,000 for the first time since annual reporting began in 2001. The city will continue the New York Knows program for another five years.
“New York City is on track to ending the AIDS epidemic once and for all,” said NYC Council LGBT Caucus Chair Daniel Dromm. “These results show that the vast majority of New Yorkers living with HIV are receiving care and have viral loads at undetectable, and therefore, untransmittable levels. As an openly gay man who lived through the AIDS crisis, this news is truly heartening.”