Baltimore City Commemorates World Aids Day, Joins Fast-Track Cities Initiative to End the AIDS Epidemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BALTIMORE, MD (December 1, 2015)– In recognition of 2015 World AIDS Day, representatives across Baltimore City today honored those we have lost to AIDS and recommitted citywide efforts to ending the epidemic in Baltimore City. Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen and Baltimore City Health Department representatives joined federal officials in Washington D.C. today to announce that Baltimore has joined the Fast-Track Cities Initiative, a declaration to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in cities across the world.

Launched on World AIDS Day 2014 in Paris, the Fast-Track Cities Initiative leverages existing HIV programs and resources in high HIV incidence cities around the world to strengthen their AIDS responses and accelerate the scale-up of prevention, testing, and treatment services for HIV and comorbid diseases, including tuberculosis.

"Under our Mayor's leadership and through the commitment of a range of partners, we have significantly improved access and quality of care for HIV infected individuals,” said Dr. Wen. “Becoming a Fast-Track City recognizes Baltimore’s innovative efforts to work with stakeholders to implement locally relevant, individually tailored, and community led strategies to curb stigma, reduce the number of new HIV infections, and end AIDS-related deaths in our city.”

Baltimore typically ranks in the top five urban cities for HIV rate and there are more than 13,000 people living with HIV currently in Baltimore City.

Baltimore City and Washington D.C. became the newest cities to have signed the Paris Declaration, joining Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Oakland, and San Francisco as the only North American cities.

The Fast-Track Cities Initiative is led by Mayors and city governments, closely engaged with affected communities, civil society, public health officials, clinical-providers, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders in more than 50 cities across the world to achieve the following targets by 2020:

  • 90% of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status
  • 90% of people who know their HIV-positive status on HIV treatment
  • 90% of people on HIV treatment with suppressed viral loads
  • Zero discrimination, including stigma

The initiative is also aligned with the UNAIDS Fast-Track Strategy for ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030, aiming to fast-track the AIDS response in key locations and populations, address the gap between where the response is now and where it should be, and facilitate the acceleration of prevention and treatment programs, rooted in a human rights approach.

Meanwhile throughout the day, Baltimore City Health Department hosted clinics across the city to provide free testing, diagnosis and treatment for residents, culminating in a remembrance vigil hosted by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and members of the Mayor’s HIV Planning Group to honor loved ones who have passed away to HIV/AIDS and celebrate the progress the Baltimore.

“Today, we remember all those we have lost to the AIDS epidemic and recognize the more than 13,000 people currently living with HIV in Baltimore City,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “Across the board, we have made a great deal of progress in our fight against HIV and AIDS in Baltimore; however, we must recommit ourselves to further reducing new infections, and improving the quality of life for all our residents.”

In September, Baltimore City was awarded over $20 million in grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support efforts to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations, with an emphasis on MSM of color.

While new HIV infections are declining across the city–and nationwide–new infections are increasing among MSM and transgender persons in Baltimore. African American populations are particularity at-risk–84 percent of those living with HIV in Baltimore are African American.

"We must recognize that HIV/AIDS is not just a health issue, but also one of social justice,” added Dr. Wen. “In Baltimore, we have always been a leader when it comes to adopting pioneering approaches to reduce health disparities. By joining the Fast Track Cities Initiative, we will be able to galvanize the resources of our partners locally, regionally, and abroad, to help create healthier and more resilient communities for our most vulnerable and marginalized populations.”

To learn more about the Fast-Track Cities Initiative, please visit: http://www.iapac.org/cities/

For more information about Baltimore City’s HIV prevention efforts, please visit: http://health.baltimorecity.gov/hivstd-services/hivstd-prevention-program

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