HIV Reaches Historic Lows But Lurks Among New York Citys Poor – New York City, NY Patch

NEW YORK CITY — The city has made massive strides combatting HIV in New York, with a historically low number of new cases reported last year, but data shows the virus still lurks among the city’s poor people of color.

Fewer than 2,000 New Yorkers were diagnosed with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus last year for the first time since the city began counting in 2001, according to the 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report released Friday.

But the report’s data show nine out of 10 people diagnosed lived in various levels of poverty and 8 out of ten are black or latino.

The city has seen a 67 percent drop in the number of new cases since 2001, when 5,859 people were diagnosed, to the 1,917 New Yorkers newly diagnosed in 2018, data show.

Of those 1,917, 1761 live in poverty, 879 are black, 697 and Latino or Latina, and 219 are white, according to the report.

Researchers mapped where the diagnoses came from and found a strong corralation between low-income areas and higher HIV rates.

The Bronx, upper Manhattan and northern Brooklyn both show high rates of people living with HIV and very high levels of poverty.

The young are also still more likely to be diagnosed — with 670 new cases among people in their 20s and 519 among those in their 30s — as are men who have sex with men who make up more than half of new diagnoses at 997 cases, analysts found.

Of people receiving HIV medical care in 2018, 87 percent were virally suppressed, which means they are not at risk of transmitting the virus to their partners, data show.

Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot credited the decrease to the city’s “data-driven, sex-positive” approach.

“New York City can end the epidemic if we continue to fight against the stigma, bias and discrimination that continue to be significant drivers of HIV,” said Barbot. “Particularly among Black and Latino men who have sex with men.”

Dr. Oni Blackstock, of the Health Department’s HIV bureau, called on the city to fight for more equitable progress “among New Yorkers from all walks of life.”

“We cannot end the epidemic among New Yorkers without ending the epidemic among all New Yorkers,” said Blackstock. “We must double down on our efforts to fight the institutional racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of stigma.”

The data comes in four years after Mayor Bill de Blasio released his $23 million response, the NYC Ending the Epidemic Plan which provides low- or no-cost HIV treatment and counseling services, with the goal of ending HIV by 2020.

The full 2018 HIV Surveillance Annual Report can be read here.