Number of New AIDS Cases in San Francisco Drops, But Officials ‘Troubled’ That New HIV Cases are Rising
More than 1,080 new AIDS cases were reported in San Francisco last year, down "slightly" from 2000 figures, according to the city's annual HIV/AIDS report released Tuesday, but officials are "troubled by signs" that new cases of HIV are increasing, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Nearly 28,000 AIDS cases have been reported in the city as of 2001 -- more than 20% of the state's 124,000 total cases. The number of sexually transmitted diseases among the city's gay and bisexual male population is increasing, "along with reports of unprotected sex," the Mercury News reports. The number of new HIV infections had been declining -- dropping from 8,000 in 1982 to 500 in 1994 -- but health officials attribute the recent "uptick" in new infections to a "younger generation of gay men" who may view AIDS as a "chronic, rather than deadly, disease" (Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 6/26).
Public Health Campaign Toned Down
In related news, San Francisco officials this week are set to unveil a new a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the increase in syphilis infection rates, but attempts to run the same program in Los Angeles County were rejected by officials who called the campaign "too racy, demeaning to the gay community and potentially offensive to others," the Los Angeles Times reports. The "Healthy Penis 2002" campaign, featuring the motto, "Making every penis a healthy penis," is being replaced in Los Angeles County by a "less explicit" anti-syphilis campaign that includes the motto "Stop the Sores" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 6/26). The campaign also drew some criticism in San Francisco. Viacom Outdoor, which owns the bus shelters on which the ads were to be displayed, objected to the use of a cartoon penis in ads. Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of STD prevention for the San Francisco health department, said that the "tongue-in-cheek" ads are an attempt to "deliver an important message," while moving away from some of the "more somber" disease awareness campaigns run recently in the city (Heredia, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25).