The Coast News Group
A candlelight vigil memorializes North County who died of AIDS in 2014. File photo by Tony Cagala
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Board of supervisors OKs grant for AIDS-prevention initiative

REGION — The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved using a $9.5 million federal grant to fund seven full-time positions to combat HIV and AIDS, as part of the county’s “Getting to Zero” initiative.

The grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention features five components: engagement, improvement, prevention, testing and treatment.

Local officials said the federal money will allow the county to build on existing programs and create new ones in the fight against HIV and AIDS, including:

— services for those who inject drugs, increasing uptake of pre-exposure medication;

— developing a mobile phone application as a digital resource guide;

— supporting additional healthcare settings in implementing routine HIV testing; and

— increasing funding for persons living with or vulnerable to HIV infection.

“This grant enables us to help more people who are already living with or vulnerable to HIV receive the services they need to achieve optimal health outcomes,” Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said.

The grant will also help the county achieve its goal of eliminating HIV in San Diego County by 2026.

In 2019, there were 368 newly diagnosed HIV cases in San Diego County, a decrease of 26% from the 499 diagnosed cases in 2016, according to Fletcher’s office.

Although there has been progress in reducing the infection rate, HIV continues to be a major public health concern in San Diego County, with an average of one new HIV diagnosis every day, according to Fletcher’s office.