Inspired by the UNAIDS vision of Getting to Zero—a bold strategic plan announced in 2010 to achieve zero HIV infections, zero AIDS deaths and zero HIV/AIDS stigma—leaders at UCSF and around San Francisco began to ask the question, What would it take to make San Francisco the first city in the world to see an end to HIV/AIDS? Given recent breakthroughs in HIV prevention and treatment, we now had the tools to bring the epidemic under control. What we needed was a coordinated response.
Thus, on World AIDS Day 2013, Getting to Zero–San Francisco was born. Comprising a wide diversity of stakeholders including leaders from UCSF, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the private healthcare sector and community-based organizations as well as local government officials and community activists, the continually expanding consortium began meeting in early 2014 to draft a practical strategic plan.
Getting to Zero–SF focuses on sustaining and expanding the successful programs that are already reducing HIV/AIDS in San Francisco, with particular emphasis on three key strategies: 1) expanding the uptake of PrEP, the use of anti-HIV drugs by at-risk, HIV-negative individuals to keep from becoming infected; 2) expanding RAPID, a UCSF research protocol piloted at San Francisco General Hospital aimed at identifying HIV-positive individuals as soon as possible after testing positive and offering them antiretroviral treatment; and 3) improving retention in care for those who are HIV-positive.
Together, these strategies (and others, which continue to be added), along with the efforts of the Getting to Zero Stigma Committee, form important first steps toward addressing the consortium’s overarching vision to stop the damage caused by HIV/AIDS in the city. Specifically, Getting to Zero–SF aims to reduce both HIV infections and AIDS deaths in San Francisco by 90% from their current levels by 2020. It is a bold goal, but one that Getting to Zero leaders feel is achievable. If it can be done anywhere, the feeling seems to be, it can be done in San Francisco.