2017 was a tough year for a lot of people, but through it all, a lot of positives came from it. Until the end of the month, I will be reflecting on personal, medical and community growth. Here are the top 10 things that I took away from 2017...
5. World AIDS Day Summit
The New York State Health Department reported on the final numbers of new infections (2016) in Albany at their World AIDS Day Summit in December 2017.
Overall, the numbers of new infections have decreased statewide. Most of the decreases have been seen in NYC, and less so in other areas of the state.
The group at highest risk of HIV infection is men of color who have sex with men.
My take: We still have work to do, including getting people tested, into care and keeping them in care. We need to accelerate our efforts to get people on PrEP, U=U is good for patients and for public health. The idea has been hiding in plain sight for years and now we are all over it.
6. Staying Ahead of the Curve
Doing HIV care is like being on a fast moving train or building a car as you go down the road. I like the high energy of what we do. Still there are days, even 35 years after I started doing this, where I remind myself that just when I think I know it all, something comes along to shake me out of my complacency.
Follow the science. For example, research has shown that in order to prevent one HIV infection, we need to have 13 people taking PrEP. That’s because of how people network sexually and how infections are transmitted. It does not mean that every man that has sex with another man has sex with 13 people.
To keep up, Trillium runs a lecture series called “Innovation Symposia.” We invite guests, experts in the field, to come and talk to us about current topics of interest.
Here are some of our cutting edge speakers this year.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, NYC Health Department talked about NYC’s work to End the Epidemic. Here he is below with our team and some guests from our sister clinic, Evergreen Health in Buffalo.
He was dynamite. Of note, they are making progress in NYC. New HIV infections were down more than 10% in NYC in 2016 vs. 2015.
Dr. Thanes Vanig, HIV doctor from Phoenix, came to talk about “Fast Track Cities.” This is a global movement of about 20 cities worldwide who are committed to ending the HIV epidemic by 2020.
And finally, our own co-founder, Dr. Steve Scheibel. Steve and his husband, Chuck Marbley live in Palm Springs now and work for the Borrego Health System, a group of community health centers in Riverside and San Diego counties.
Steve is brilliant. I said in my book that if I had a billion dollars, I’d give it to him to find a cure for HIV. His response was, “I could do it for less!!” He is brilliant and I have always been in awe of his brain.
His ideas of 30 years ago are just now getting legs globally. For example, we always thought that HIV should be treated sooner rather than later. We recognized that the drugs were limited, our idea of treating as soon as possible made us outcasts for many years, but vindication came in 2013 when the World Health Organization said early treatment is best.