LOS ANGELES – Today, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) and the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV recognize World AIDS Day and launch the Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2020 and Beyond (LACHAS). The new strategy seeks to significantly reduce the number of annual HIV infections in Los Angeles County each year and bring an end to the HIV epidemic once and for all.
“This Strategy will harness sustained commitment from stakeholders from all sectors of the County to finally put an end to HIV, and the Commission on HIV encourages all allies to take a strong stand to put the plan into action,” said Cheryl Barrit, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. “World AIDS Day is a perfect opportunity for us to rededicate ourselves to the fight against HIV.”
LA County has the second largest HIV epidemic in the United States. Nearly 61,000 people are living with HIV in the County and there are approximately 1,850 new diagnoses each year, most among gay men, African-Americans, Latinos, and transgender persons. LACHAS seeks to help bring an end to the epidemic, including reducing the number of annual HIV infections; increasing the number of people who are living with HIV but undiagnosed; and increasing the viral suppression rates among people who are diagnosed with HIV.
Mario J. Pérez, MPH, Director for Public Health’s Division of HIV and STD Programs (DHSP), introduced the Strategy and detailed a bold and aggressive approach to ensuring its success. “While we have made great progress in reducing new HIV infections, HIV continues to significantly impact our County,” Pérez emphasized. “For the Strategy to work, Public Health calls for collaboration, communication, and accountability from all sectors, including the community, all levels of government, and the private health sector.”
The three goals of the LACHAS are:
- Reduce annual HIV infections to 500
- Increase the proportion of Persons Living with HIV (PLWH) who are diagnosed to at least 90%
- Increase the proportion of diagnosed PLWH who are virally suppressed to 90%
Racism, HIV-related stigma and discrimination, homophobia and transphobia have a profound impact on HIV prevention efforts. LACHAS addresses the impact of health inequities in the HIV epidemic.
“I’ve been a strong proponent of using a health equity lens to understand and confront our most pressing public health issues, including HIV,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Our new Strategy outlines the role of health inequities and social determinants of health on current HIV rates – our shared charge is to drive action with data, amplify community voices, and build strong partnerships to achieve the goals of the Strategy.”
The LACHAS is the result of more than two years of comprehensive planning, including the identification and integration of best practices, alignment of resources, and gathering of feedback from a range of stakeholders.
Grissel Granados, Community Co-Chair of the Strategy, states, “We have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the HIV epidemic in Los Angeles by being intentionally bold. This is the time to center people of color, transgender people, and young gay men; be unapologetically sex positive; and catch up to the science of HIV prevention, which includes the fact that when the virus is undetectable in people living with HIV, they cannot transmit HIV and that when HIV-negative people take Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, they reduce their chances of acquiring HIV.”
For more information about Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Strategy, visit the new website: https://lacounty.hiv.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of over 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health comprises nearly 4,100 employees and has an annual budget of $1 billion. To learn more about Los Angeles County Public Health, please visit www.publichea lth.lacounty.gov, and follow LA County Public Health on social media at twitter.com/lap ublichealth, facebook.co m/lapublichealth and youtube.com/ lapublichealth.