A recent report shows New York City HIV diagnoses were on the decline in 2016. According to the Department of Health, the city saw a total of 2,279 new cases reported—an 8.6 percent decrease in new infections from the prior year. Jezebel reports the department counted 5,906 new infections when it began tracking HIV cases in 2001.
Enter preventative drug PrEP, which scientists say is partly responsible for the steady decline.
“The technology has landed, and implementation is moving quickly,” Demetre Daskalakis, Deputy Commissioner for Disease Control, reportedly told Jezebel. “Finally we’re seeing that the curve of decline is statistically significant. I think this is a harbinger of really good things to come.”
But, as numbers show, the drug didn’t gain immediate traction. First introduced in 2012, PrEP was only being used by about five percent of men having sex with men at the top of 2016, according to the health department. By the end of the year, however, that number had increased to 30 percent—and with word finally picking up throughout the streets, you’ve probably seen an ad for PrEP on the train during at least one of your morning commutes.
NYC has made a particular effort to make the drug available to Black and brown men, who’ve historically been at the center of most new diagnoses. But while contraction rates drop among men (the health department cites 1,236 diagnoses in 2016 versus 1,450 in 2015), Black and Latina women are constituting more than 90 percent of new diagnoses among women, Jezebel reports.
To combat this, Daskalakis says the agency will aim to make their next campaign “very, very women focused” by encouraging OB-GYNs and other women-centric providers to prescribe PrEP to their patients.
“We need to better [sic] with women, and so we will,” he stated.
PrEP is currently available for free or at low cast at each of the eight city-run clinics in NYC.