HIV diagnoses have reached an all-time low in New York City, new figures reveal.
A report released today by the New York City Department of Health showed 2,279 new diagnoses were recorded in 2016 – a nine percent drop from the 2,493 new cases in 2015.
The biggest decrease in infections was seen among gay men, dropping 15 percent from 1,450 new cases in 2015 to 1,236 new cases a year later.
But while activists and public health officials rejoice, they warn there is one caveat: the rate of new diagnoses among women went up, suggesting public health campaigns may not have spoken to every demographic.
New figures released on Wednesday by the New York City Department of Health showed 2,279 new diagnoses were recorded in 2016 – a nine percent drop from the 2,493 new cases in 2015
‘I feel very optimistic and motivated by these new figures,’ Dr Demetre Daskalakis, deputy commissioner for the health department, told Daily Mail Online.
‘It’s exciting, especially considering that many of New York City’s innovative “Ending the Epidemic” programming only really got off the ground in late 2016!
‘These 2016 numbers are a harbinger or good things to come as these new programs have more time to make an impact on HIV transmission.’
New York has long been a vanguard in fighting HIV.
Last month, a report by Kaiser Permanente revealed prescriptions for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – the drug that protects HIV negative people from contracting the disease – increased almost 1,000 percent in New York City between 2014 and 2016.
Dr Daskalakis explains that was the key first step to bring down new diagnoses, and these new figures ‘show our efforts are paying off’.
‘We have rebranded our sexual health clinics in that time and have made them efficient hubs of HIV treatment and prevention,’ he explained.
Asked whether this is a sign of things to come, he tentatively agreed: ‘Although hard to predict, I would expect that our significantly enhanced efforts to launch PrEP and other interventions will mean that we will continue to accelerate toward our 2020 goal to end the epidemic of HIV in NYC.’
He conceded that ‘declines in new diagnoses in women have slowed down’, but insisted that is the city’s main priority at the moment.
‘We have been planning several new strategies to increase PrEP use among women at risk for HIV exposure.
‘Special attention has been focused on making sure that our new interventions reach populations who are at highest risk of HIV.’