Austin Recommits to AIDS Epidemic
90-90-90 status targeted by 2020
Austin and Travis County have committed to reaching new goals and lows in HIV treatment. Mayor Steve Adler and County Judge Sarah Eckhardt joined Dr. José Zuniga, president and CEO of the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care, on Wednesday to become the 20th U.S. city to sign the Paris Declaration. The goal: achieve 90-90-90 status by 2020. That's 90% of all Austinites living with HIV will know their status; 90% of residents living with HIV receive sustained treatment; 90% of people on sustained treatment will have an undetectable viral load (meaning they can no longer pass on the virus). In 2016, there were 4,716 people living with the virus in Travis County, but Austin Public Health estimates another 987 people are infected and unaware.
APH Medical Director Dr. Philip Huang said Austin has already attained one of the goals: 90% of people currently on sustained treatment have achieved an undetectable viral load. But about 250 new cases – 47% of which involve Black and Latino men who sleep with men – are diagnosed annually within the area. Eckhardt, in an emotional speech dedicated to two friends she lost to AIDS, called the virus "our generation's polio," and said we can and must eradicate it. Adler called cities and counties "essential" to achieving these goals. "We can no longer stand by and watch the epidemic continue, especially when solutions exist," he said. "There's nothing left to be said other than let's just get this done."
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story referred to Austin as the 18th U.S. city to sign the declaration when in fact it was the 20th.