PHILADELPHIA—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s HIV in Philadelphia 2021 report has been published on the City’s website. The Health Department recorded 365 new diagnoses of HIV in Philadelphia in 2021. This represents a 9% increase in the number of new HIV diagnoses from 2020 but remains 18% lower than the number of HIV diagnoses in 2019. While this decrease from 2019 may be a result of diminished testing capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Department is cautiously optimistic that it represents early advances towards ending the HIV epidemic.
“The Health Department has made substantial progress in implementing the community-developed and -driven Ending the HIV Epidemic plan for Philadelphia,” said AIDS Activities Coordinating Office Director and Medical Director Dr. Kathleen Brady. “We are now starting to see early indications that our efforts are working with declining numbers of new HIV infections. I hope that our progress will be an inspiration to continue to work hard, think outside the box, and remain committed to ending the HIV epidemic by 2030.”
Despite overall lower rates of new HIV diagnoses since 2020, people of color continue to be diagnosed with HIV at higher rates (non-Hispanic Black: 36.2 per 100,000; Hispanic/Latinx: 28.2 per 100,000) compared to non-Hispanic White Philadelphians (13.6 per 100,000). The majority (55.9%) of new HIV diagnoses in 2021 were among gay, bisexual men, and other persons assigned male sex at birth men who have sex with men (MSM), with two-thirds of those diagnoses occurring among non-Hispanic Black MSM. New diagnoses continue to be elevated among people who inject drugs and remain nearly twice as high as 2016, the last year a decrease was observed in this group.
The Health Department has worked with people living with HIV and their providers to identify barriers to accessing HIV prevention and care services and implement activities to improve access to these services. These activities include the establishment of low threshold sexual health sites, TelePrEP (access to HIV prevention medications via telemedicine), the nPEP Center of Excellence, the expansion of the HIV self-test kit program, an increased access to immediate antiretroviral therapy.
With over 18,000 people living with diagnosed HIV in Philadelphia, the Health Department continues to monitor and identify ways to increase viral suppression. In 2021, 81.4% of newly diagnosed cases of HIV were linked to medical care within one month of diagnosis. Among all individuals living with HIV with evidence of care during the last 5 years, 80.8% received HIV medical care during 2021, and 70.1% were virally suppressed.
The full report: HIV in Philadelphia 2021 is available for download on the Health Department’s Website at https://www.phila.gov/media/20221115084504/2021HIVReport-FINAL.pdf. The
public is encouraged to visit https://www.phillykeeponloving.com for information on PrEP, TelePrEP, at-home HIV testing, free condoms, and more.