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News Dec 17, 2018 - 10:42:20 AM

Getting to Zero commission releases report

By Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH)

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Hartford, CT - The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today issued a report with statewide and city-specific recommendations for implementing Getting to Zero (G2Z), a campaign to get to zero new HIV infections, zero HIV-related deaths and zero HIV-related stigma and discrimination in Connecticut. The report calls for G2Z activities to be launched statewide and in the five cities with the highest number of people living with HIV: Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury and Stamford.

Earlier today, the Commission announced the recommendations and delivered their final report to the DPH Commissioner and the Health Directors of the five cities. While the Commission’s work has ended, the report sets the stage for the beginning of G2Z activities and new opportunities for community engagement to end the HIV epidemic. The full report and a G2Z Campaign video can be accessed on the G2Z website that launched today. Members of the public can visit the website, www.gettingtozeroct.org, where they can view these resources and also access information on joining ongoing G2Z efforts.

“I am extremely proud of the work done over the last six months by the G2Z Commission to focus on the population groups and the areas in Connecticut where HIV continues to have a disproportionate impact, specifically the state’s five largest cities and among young men having sex with men, particularly in communities of color, Black women and transgender individuals,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino.

“While great strides have been made to curb HIV infections and improve health outcomes for people living with HIV in these communities, there’s more that can be done, and I am proud to launch the G2Z campaign to continue that work in a more focused, community centered way,” added Dr. Pino. “Based on the recommendations and work of the G2Z Commission, the G2Z campaign will focus more intently on impacted populations through the reframing of current thinking on HIV and retooling of strategies to curb HIV, with the goal being the elimination of new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and elimination of the stigma and discrimination suffered by people living with HIV/AIDS.”

A 23-member commission appointed by Commissioner Pino, comprised of advocates from the at-risk populations in each city, AIDS service organization representatives, local health advocates, individuals living with HIV, and researchers from New Haven and Hartford, collaborated with the health directors of the state’s five major cities to develop City Teams that planned and implemented community listening sessions over the summer in each of the cities with each affected population. Participants were asked what they know about HIV Testing,

HIV Treatment, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and HIV stigma in their communities. The information gathered from community members is included in the Commission’s report.

The Commission announced the following six recommendations for implementing Getting to Zero activities:

1. Form a CT G2Z Working Group to develop an overall model for implementing recommendations of the 2018 CT G2Z Commission at the state level and to drive and monitor G2Z activities statewide. 2. Form a G2Z Working Group in each of the 5 highest HIV incidence cities (Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury, Stamford) to implement G2Z recommendations in each city. 3. Develop and launch a visible statewide PrEP and PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) education and access program. 4. Develop and execute population-specific HIV education and training campaigns at the state and city levels to educate or reeducate providers and community members about HIV prevention, care, and stigma. 5. Engage stakeholders to develop HIV testing legislation in accordance with CDC recommendations for routine HIV testing for all persons ages 15-64.

6. Implement standardized medical care for people living with HIV.

According to DPH, in Connecticut in 2016, about 50 percent of HIV cases were among men having sex with men (MSM). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the lifetime risk of contracting HIV is one out of every two Black MSM and one out of every four Latino MSM.

In Connecticut, Black females are living with HIV at a rate approximately 12 times that of white females with one out of every 48 Black women at risk for contracting HIV over their lifetime. Black females were diagnosed with HIV at a rate 20 times that of white females between 2012 and 2016. According to the 2015 National Center for Transgender Equality Survey, transgender individuals are five times more likely than cisgender individuals to be infected with HIV. 3.4% of transwomen are HIV positive, compared to .3% of the general U.S. population, and 19% of black transgender women are HIV positive.

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