Sunday, September 26, 2010

HHS announces $30 million in new resources to support the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today(September 24) announced that CDC has allocated $30 million of the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund to expand HIV prevention efforts under the President's National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). This includes $21.6 million in grants to state and local health departments. The funding will help to further focus HIV prevention on high risk populations and communities, as well as fill critical gaps in data, knowledge and understanding of the epidemic.

"This funding will give a critical boost to our HIV/AIDS prevention efforts across the country," said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "By focusing on communities and geographic areas that have been hardest hit by this disease, these critical investments will make a real impact on prevention efforts - a key part of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy."

"The National HIV/AIDS Strategy gives us an opportunity to redefine our nation's approach to HIV prevention, and can help us take our collective efforts to the next level," said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. "We are pleased that this funding will allow those of us working in HIV prevention at the federal, state, and local level to support innovative, evidence-based and high-impact prevention efforts in line with recommendations from the strategy."

Grants totaling $11.6 million will support demonstration projects to identify and implement a "combination approach" to enhance effective HIV prevention programming in 12 hard-hit areas across the country. These efforts will both supplement existing programs in these communities and help jurisdictions to better focus efforts on key at-risk populations and fulfill unmet needs.

Under this program, each funded jurisdiction will work with CDC to determine what mix of HIV prevention approaches can have the greatest impact in the local area - at the individual, population, and community level - based on the local profile of the epidemic and by assessing and identifying current gaps in HIV prevention portfolios. While the exact combination of approaches will vary by area, efforts funded under this program will follow a basic approach of: intensifying prevention for individuals at greatest risk, along with testing those individuals to reduce undiagnosed HIV infection; prioritizing prevention and linkage to care for people living with HIV; and directing these intensified efforts to communities with the highest burden of HIV.

The twelve jurisdictions funded in the first year for these efforts include Chicago, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Houston, Los Angeles, Maryland, New York City, Philadelphia, Puerto Rico, San Francisco, and Texas. The average award is approximately $960,000

Additional funding will allow CDC to expand upon successful existing efforts, as well as fill knowledge gaps to help guide evidence-based policies and approaches as a part of NHAS. Awards to state and local health departments include:

* Increasing HIV testing: $4.4 million from the Affordable Care Act will allow CDC to further expand its successful HIV testing initiative. The initiative began in 2007 to increase knowledge of HIV status primarily among African Americans, and was recently expanded to reach more hard-hit communities and populations at risk, including Latinos, men who have sex with men (MSM), and injection drug users. In the first two years of the program alone, more than 1.4 million Americans were tested, and more than 10,000 individuals were newly diagnosed.

* Filling critical data gaps: $5.6 million from the Affordable Care Act will enhance local area data collection, to provide critical information to better monitor and target future HIV prevention and treatment programs. Specifically, the new funds allow areas to monitor disease indicators among HIV-infected populations to better understand access to care, prevention, and treatment services.

The remainder of the funding is going to support additional activities for HIV prevention:

* Supporting evaluation for new activities: $6.6 million from the Affordable Care Act will support evaluation and monitoring of combination prevention approaches and other activities. Funding will also establish a web-based survey to quickly identify and respond to trends in risk behavior and exposure to HIV prevention services among men who have sex with men (MSM.)

* Prioritizing underserved populations: $1 million from the Affordable Care Act will support work with tribal communities to improve HIV prevention and program integration for American Indians/Alaska Natives.

While the exact eligibility criteria differed for each of the awards, the majority of the funding is directed toward geographic areas hard hit by the epidemic.

"While this funding represents an exciting new investment in HIV prevention, these efforts are just one important part of what is needed to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and address the devastating impact that the epidemic has on many communities in the United States," said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. "Success will require a shared commitment and responsibility across the board, from CDC and other parts of the federal government and beyond. With far too many new infections occurring here each year - one new infection every nine and a half minutes - we must work together to ensure that the urgent HIV prevention needs in this country are met."

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