San Francisco Map Of HIV Viral Loads Shows Where Care Lags

Researchers in San Francisco have identified how much virus people infected with HIV are carrying and mapped their results, which show that that AIDS treatment lags in certain neighborhoods. The work also showed that the sickest patients were often African-American, homeless and transgender. The New York Times reports: "The map is the product of a groundbreaking effort to identify where care should be focused. The research combines medical records and epidemiological tools to show the intensity of the illness, measured by individual's viral load, the number of viral particles in a patient's bloodstream. The ultimate goal is to provide treatment and stop transmission of the disease."

"Using the data of individuals' viral load levels, the city can track where the virus is circulating and focus attention on the deepest reservoirs of H.I.V. Successful anti-retroviral treatment reduces the load in an individual so it is undetectable in the blood. The less virus in the blood, the lower the chance of infecting others. ... Other communities have mapped the presence of H.I.V., but those have been basic efforts: counting the number of H.I.V./AIDS cases in a geographical area. In effect, those efforts show the surface of the water; the new effort shows the water's depth" (Pogash, 11/6).

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