State Sen. Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) announced new legislation on Wednesday, Jan. 15 that would require state agencies to create a master plan to drive down infection rates in HIV, HCV and other STDs across California.
New infections have not moved significantly statewide during the last decade amongst the most vulnerable demographics. The 13 percent decline in white Californians represents the largest demographical shift in a study measuring HIV diagnoses between 2013 and 2017. Meanwhile, the decline with African Americans has only been two percent while the Latinx community has seen a four percent increase in new HIV infections. By contrast, New York has put forth efforts that have allowed their HIV infection rates to drop by 40 percent since 2014.
The comprehensive proposal, SB 859, would aim to bring new infections down dramatically across all STDS, specifically within the LGBTQ, African American and Latinx community who are affected disproportionately, largely due to a lack of access to proper health care and education. The legislation argues this is unacceptable, particularly in recent years when the wide distribution of drugs like PrEP have made the end of HIV a possible reality.
“We have the tools to end new infections of HIV and STDs,” Weiner said in a statement. “What we’re missing is political will. This bill, SB 859, would require California to make a plan to end this epidemic, and help state agencies access the necessary resources to do so.”
Weiner continued, “California must be a leader on these issues, and right now we’re at risk of falling behind. SB 859 would a big step towards finally ending the epidemic.”
The bill is a first step. The specifics of how exactly more services and educational information would be disseminated would be determined after it passed. The press release from Weiner’s office gave the following information in regards to the bill’s language:
“Senate Bill 859 would require the Secretary of California Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with the Chief of the Office of AIDS (OA), to create a comprehensive Master Plan to end new infections of HIV, HCV and other STDs. This bill mandates that the Secretary and Chief institute a Stakeholder Advisory Committee and work with relevant state agencies to set targets to end new infections and identify recommended programs, policies, strategies, and funding for achieving these targets.”
In addition to Weiner, Assemblymembers Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) and David Chiu (D-San Francisco) are chief co-authors of the legislation, which is also co-signed by Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Melissa Hurtado (D-Fresno). Additionally, APLA Health and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation serve as sponsors, with co-sponsorship coming from Essential Access Health.
Chiu stated that he was proud to join Weiner in authoring the bill. “Creating a Master Plan on HIV, HCV, and STDs will address widening disparities among vulnerable populations and build upon the successes of the last 30 years,” said Chiu.