San Francisco is changing the face of AIDS treatment

San Francisco, once the center of the HIV epidemic, is now serving as a model for other cities, now reporting only a few hundred new cases a year.

San Francisco, once the center of the HIV epidemic, is now serving as a model for other cities, now reporting only a few hundred new cases a year. Five years ago, health officials in the city began following a "test and treat" practice: offering every patient antiretroviral drugs as soon as they test positive, rather than waiting for their immune system levels to fall. In 2013, the city started offering everyone at risk of infection preventive drugs. Other measures being taken in San Francisco include a program that offers near-immediate doctor's appointments for newly diagnosed patients and another to monitor difficult patients. The results of these efforts have been significant, with San Francisco recording just 302 new HIV cases in 2014, down from a peak of more than 2,300 in 1992. That year, the city also recorded 1,641 deaths from AIDS, while in 2014 there were 177 deaths among San Francisco residents with HIV, mostly from heart disease, cancer, or other conditions.