San Diego County will fight to reduce HIV infections - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego County will fight to reduce HIV infections

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a plan aimed at significantly reducing the HIV infection rate in the region.

Known as the Getting to Zero Implementation Plan, it addresses three systematic issues: HIV and AIDS awareness, the stigma around testing and access to proper care.

HIV remains a major public health problem in San Diego County, where about 20,000 residents are living with the virus that causes AIDS, according to county health statistics.

A county Ad Hoc Task Force recently recommended increasing awareness about the disease, preventing new infections, using policies to reduce the infection rate to zero, using data to improve outcomes, and studying how certain communities are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.

Terry Cunningham, of the San Diego HIV Health Services Planning Council, told supervisors the plan was "an incredible and historic step" in fighting the disease and its causes.

"This is the most hopeful I've been in the 34 years I've been involved with HIV prevention, and that's half of my life," Cunningham said.

Board Chairman Ron Roberts -- who, along with fellow Supervisor Dave Roberts proposed the implementation plan -- said success stories in AIDS prevention include Australia, which has basically declared victory over the disease.

Today in that nation of nearly 24 million, new yearly cases are down to 1,000, Roberts said. Dave Roberts, who praised Ron Roberts for his efforts, said the county will find financial resources at both the federal and state level to help health workers in the fight against HIV infection.

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