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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
NEW YORK: Seeing Chance to End Spread of HIV, City's Health Chief Pushes Earlier Drug Treatment
Anemona Hartocollis
December 2, 2011
New York Times (12.01.11) - Friday, December 02, 2011

Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley is recommending that New York City doctors begin treating HIV as soon as a patient is diagnosed with the infection. This change in city policy is being driven by new research showing that early treatment leads to longer, healthier lives and a 96 percent lower risk of transmission, he said.

"I am more optimistic than ever that we can really drive down rates of infection, and that we may ultimately see the end of this epidemic," Farley said in a briefing sent to health care providers on Thursday, World AIDS Day.

Farley's proposal is similar to one adopted by San Francisco in 2010. There, doctors began prescribing early treatment even before city leaders put forth guidelines, and many providers in New York are likely doing the same, said Dr. Moupali Das, director of research in the San Francisco health department's HIV prevention section.

Roughly 110,000 New Yorkers are known to have HIV; among those tracked by the health department, 83 percent are receiving antiretroviral drugs.

Charles King, president of the advocacy group Housing Works, questions whether the science supports such an aggressive treatment policy. He noted that many poor patients delay treatment because once the disease progresses to AIDS, they are eligible for specific housing and nutritional benefits.