What is West Hollywood’s HIV rate?
December 1 is World AIDS Day and the City of West Hollywood is readying its “HIV Zero” strategic plan. In that context, we wondered about the city’s current HIV rate. We looked at the total number of people living with HIV and the number of new diagnoses each year (as an indirect measure of new infections).
Residents living with HIV
About 2,500 residents are living with HIV. The number has grown steadily over time. The following chart from a 2013 City report shows the long-term trend.
Residents living with HIV compared to the county and nearby cities
In 2014, West Hollywood residents living with HIV represented 7% of the city’s population or one in 14 residents. Among male residents, 13% — one in eight — were living with HIV.
The city’s rate was far above the county average. About 49,000 of the county’s 10 million people were living with HIV in 2014. That was 0.5% of the population.
We don’t have equivalent numbers in hand for the other Westside cities. Instead, we can make rough estimates based on zip-code-based data from a website called AIDSVu. In five Santa Monica zip codes, there were about 400 residents living with HIV in 2014. Zip code boundaries are more complicated in Culver City, but the two biggest zip codes give us an estimate of 150 or so. The numbers for both cities suggest rates at or below the county average.
Based on the zip-code data, Beverly Hills may have had 300 people living with HIV. For Los Angeles, the AIDS Coordinator’s Office published a number for 2009: 27,000 residents living with HIV. Both numbers suggest rates above the county average but well below West Hollywood’s.
We also wondered about Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood. The population is close to West Hollywood’s. The number of people living with HIV was lower than West Hollywood in 2014. We don’t know the exact number, but Silver Lake covers less than half of three zip codes that had a total of 2,242 people living with HIV.
Residents newly diagnosed with HIV
We estimate that 70-plus West Hollywood residents are newly diagnosed with HIV each year. The most recently published “HIV surveillance” report from the County’s Department of Public Health says that 70 residents were diagnosed in 2012 and 67 in 2013. Those numbers may have changed since then if the County received more information. For 2014, we have seen counts of 63 and 75.
The number of new diagnoses has declined in recent years. If there were 75 in 2014, then the number declined over 20% since 2006. Countywide, the number dropped even more: over 40% based on preliminary data. As more information comes in, that percentage may get smaller.
A chart from an earlier City report provides more historical context. It shows a sharp drop in new AIDS diagnoses in West Hollywood during the 1990s, then a fairly stable number of new HIV diagnoses in the 2000s. We see a decline in new HIV diagnoses starting in 2011.
Residents newly diagnosed with HIV compared to nearby areas
The County reports the population-adjusted rates of new HIV diagnoses for the 35 communities with the highest rates. The adjustment is based on each community’s total population, not its high-risk population. The most recently published list is for 2013.
West Hollywood had by far the highest rate in 2013. The city had 19 new HIV diagnoses for every 10,000 residents. Downtown Los Angeles was next with eight and Hollywood with seven. Silver Lake and Chinatown combined had five. Beverly Hills was farther down the list, with two new diagnoses per 10,000 residents (seven cases).
Culver City and Santa Monica weren’t in the top 35, so we don’t have the same numbers for them. We know from another source (AIDSVu) that five zip codes in Santa Monica had a total of 69 new diagnoses over five years. Given the city’s population, that means about one new HIV diagnosis per 10,000 residents per year.
Zip code boundaries complicate our estimate for Culver City. If we focus on the city’s two biggest zip codes, there were only 24 cases over five years. Like Santa Monica, that means one new HIV diagnosis per 10,000 residents per year.
In January 2015, the West Hollywood City Council set a goal of reducing HIV transmission to zero by the summer of 2017. That led to the development of the “HIV Zero” strategic plan, which is currently being finalized. The plan “defines the end of the epidemic as the point in time when new infections dip and stay below the number of AIDS related deaths.”
The strategies involve PrEP, HIV testing, HIV/AIDS treatment, substance abuse treatment, mental health services, healthcare access, and education. The plan calls for the City and its partner organizations to (quoting from the draft):
- Increase primary healthcare coverage enrollment by 6% among men aged 18 to 44 years from 77% at baseline to 83%
- Reduce the number of newly diagnosed by 15% from 77 per year at baseline to no more than 66 per year
- Increase the percentage of newly diagnosed persons linked to HIV medical care within one month of their diagnoses from 92% at baseline to 95%
- Increase the percentage of persons with diagnosed HIV infection who are retained in HIV medical care to 75% from 60%
- Increase the percentage of persons with diagnosed HIV infection who are virally suppressed to 75% up from 69%
- Reduce the percentage of persons diagnosed with Stage 3 (AIDS) to no more than 2% of the HIV positive population without a Stage 3 diagnoses
- Reduce the rate of HIV diagnoses by 15% for young [men who have sex with men] (15-34 years)
The City offers a list of HIV resources here.
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