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San Antonio Joins International Agreement To End New AIDS Cases By 2030

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Metro Health Director Dr. Colleen Bridger speaks outside City Hall at the annoucement San Antonio would be joining Fast Track Cities

On the eve of World AIDS Day, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg signed a declaration to end new cases of the disease by 2030.

San Antonio became the 14th U.S. city Thursday to become a part of an international agreementknown as Fast Track Cities.

Part of the mission of the Paris-based initiative with United Nations and International Association of Providers of AIDS Care is removing the stigma of HIV infection. There are about 6,000 people in Bexar County with HIV, and about 360 new HIV infections in 2016, according to San Antonio Metro Health.

“What once seemed unimaginable is now truly within our reach,” Nirenberg said. “This is for every family who’s lost a loved one to the disease, for every person whose life was cut short because they failed to access retroviral drugs."

But the main goal of the declaration is to get policy makers to work more closely with medical professionals in providing care to those infected with HIV.

“It includes clinical and service providers on every level, including primary care as a means of addressing a bottle neck to getting people treated,” said Jose Zuniga, president of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care.

WATCH | San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg at City Hall

Fast Track Cities uses a program called 90-90-90, which means 90 percent of people infected with HIV know their status, 90 percent of positive people are on treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment have a viral load that’s undetectable which can reduce or eliminate new transmissions. Reaching those goals have a deadline of 2020.

Junda Woo, medical director for San Antonio Metro Health, said the city is already at about 70 to 86 percent in each of those categories: 86,72 and 85, respectively.

“The challenging part, that second one … is linkage to care and it just breaking down structural barriers so that we can provide a warm handoff and get into care everybody who is newly diagnosed in the city,” Woo said.

Another goal is to make data sharing between cities easier, she added. Metro Health plans to post its HIV data annually. Starting next year, data will also be available to cities within the partnership.

About 200 cities are in the agreement, including Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Denver, Amsterdam, Boston, and Mexico City.

Joey Palacios can be reached at joey@tpr.org or on Twitter @joeycules

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules