HIV infections drop nearly 10 percent in San Francisco

New HIV cases have fallen by almost 10 percent over the past five years, the city's first decline in infections since the late 1980s, health officials said.

The number of new infections reported fell from 1,084 new infections in 2001 to 976 in 2006, according to preliminary estimates by San Francisco's Department of Public Health.

Officials said the findings were somewhat surprising because the city's gay male population increased 25 percent over the last five years, and many younger gay men increasingly have high-risk sex.

"This is great news; we're making progress," said Mark Cloutier, executive director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. "But I think it is both bad planning and bad public policy to look toward the future based on a 'short-term trend.' We don't know how long this will last."

The exact reasons for the decrease are unknown. But experts said one reason might be a new practice among gay men of engaging in sexual activity only with men with the same HIV status.

Nationwide, the rate of new diagnoses among gay and bisexual men of all races rose 8 percent in 2004, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports AP.


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