Today we commemorate World AIDS Day—an opportunity for the global community to unite in solidarity to support those living with HIV and honor those we have lost. On this day, it is important that we celebrate the progress we have made while acknowledging that there is a great deal more work to do. We also reaffirm our commitment to ending the epidemic.
Since the epidemic began nearly 35 years ago, San Francisco has been on the forefront of advocating and caring for those living with and at risk for HIV. Our city continues to be a global leader in the fight against AIDS and has inspired an international conversation through our Getting to Zero initiative.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation is a proud member of the Getting to Zero consortium. Collectively, we set an ambitious goal: to make San Francisco the first city in the world to achieve zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths, and zero HIV stigma. Reaching this will not be easy, but San Francisco has never backed down from a challenge, especially when it comes to HIV.
In September, the San Francisco Department of Public Health reported that there were 255 new HIV diagnoses in 2015—a 44% reduction since 2010. And, there were fewer than 200 deaths among people living with HIV in the same year—a ten year low. The progress we have made is something many of us never dreamed possible, especially in the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
Although there is much to be proud of, let me assure you—the fight against AIDS is not over. Together, we must continue to end the inequities that HIV thrives on—inequities that place gay men and transgender people at greatest risk for infection, inequities that perpetuate health disparities within communities of color, and inequities that threaten access to care and housing for long-term survivors of HIV.
The anticipated changes to national healthcare priorities will only further these inequities, creating new challenges for our work and new threats for the health of our community. But I am confident, that with you by our side, San Francisco AIDS Foundation will continue to ensure equitable access to the HIV prevention, care, and supportive services for people here in San Francisco and across the country.
On this World AIDS Day, we must remind ourselves that San Francisco's Getting to Zero initiative has global significance. If the city that was considered ground zero for the epidemic can be the same to end it, San Francisco will inspire a renewed hope across the world that ending AIDS is possible.
It is now up to us to show the world that San Francisco can get to zero.
On behalf of the clients, staff, and volunteers of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, thank you for all that you have done and will continue to do to end the HIV epidemic.
All my best,
Chief Executive Officer
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