New HIV cases in New York City reached a ‘statistically significant low’ in 2016.
The news comes from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s HIV Surveillance Annual Report.
HIV reporting in New York City first began in 2001. Since then, new diagnoses among men who have sex with other men (MSM) reached the new low. This group also had the steepest decline from year-to-year. In 2015, there were 1,450 new cases for the MSM group, compared to 1,236 in 2016 (a 14.8% drop).
Furthermore, cases across the board are continuing to decline.
In 2015, there were 2,493 new cases reported, compared to last year’s 2,279. This is an 8.6% decrease among new diagnoses.
HIV-related deaths also declined. The deaths of nearly two-thirds of people living with HIV in New York City are now attributed to non-HIV causes.
‘I’m pretty euphoric about the news, to be honest,’ Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the Health Department’s deputy commissioner for disease control told the New York Daily News.
PrEP use also on the rise
At the start of 2016, the Health Department estimated only 5% of men having sex with men were using PrEP. By the end of last year, that number jumped to 30%.
PrEP is a drug used to prevent HIV infections. It contains two medicines used to combat a permanent infection when people without HIV contract it. The drug has been available in New York City since 2012.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PrEP has been known to reduce the risk of infection by 92%.
A divide in gender, but an optimistic future
Unfortunately, new diagnoses among women — especially women of color — rose in 2016.
Daskalakis attributes this discrepancy to PrEP. Men are much more likely to be prescribed and take the drug.
‘When the providers of care for women really buy into pre-exposure prophylactics and understand its role, all of a sudden they’re prescribing to their patients,’ he said.
Once this is addressed, Daskalakis is hopeful for the future.
‘I’m excited because if this is what happened in 2016, I can only imagine what’s going to happen in 2017 in terms of accelerating the decline of new infections. We’ve launched so many new interventions that focus on getting people on new medicines.’