Cross-posted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Newsroom
[On Friday, August 2], Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan, joined state and local health officials at the Damien Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, for a tour of the health clinic and a roundtable discussion on the work being done in Indiana and specifically Marion County to provide treatment and prevention services for those living with HIV.
Marion County is one of the 48 counties identified in the Ending the HIV Epidemic in America initiative [PDF, 634KB] that along with Washington, D.C., San Juan, Puerto Rico, and seven southern states see more than 50 percent of new HIV transmissions. The President’s initiative, announced in this year’s State of the Union, will provide resources to these local communities to expand HIV prevention and treatment medication. HHS also recently announced a historic donation of billions of dollars of PrEP, HIV prevention medication, for up to 200,000 uninsured individuals a year for up to 11 years from Gilead Sciences.
Along the tour, Damien Center President and CEO Alan Witchey explained the comprehensive services provided to their clients. The Damien Center serves 4,000 individuals a year. Of those, approximately 1,200 are living with HIV and the remainder are provided with HIV testing or prevention services, such as PrEP. They discussed the intensive case-management they provide for clients, and services including housing assistance, walk-in testing, an in-house pharmacy for ease of filling prescriptions, and a treatment clinic.
At the roundtable, Indiana State Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box welcomed the participants. Secretary Azar, Director Redfield, and Director Grogan all spoke about the passion that President Trump has for this important public health initiative, and Secretary Azar commended the good work being done at the Damien Center and emphasized the importance of learning lessons from local communities including Marion County.
The roundtable provided an update on a number of important programs in Indiana regarding HIV treatment services, HIV and sexually-transmitted disease prevention, addressing viral hepatitis, and HIV epidemiological surveillance. Each of these programs is working to ensure that there is collaboration by all stakeholders at state and local levels so that the best care can be provided for individuals with HIV, and prevent transmission for those that are at-risk.
Learn more about the "Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America."