Cross-posted from CDC NCHHSTP Newsroom
Targeted funding goes to areas and communities most affected by HIV
CDC awarded $109 million to state and local health departments to accelerate progress in the fight to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. Communities will use the funding to customize and implement high-impact HIV diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and response strategies, and to reduce local barriers to HIV prevention and care.
The award is part of a five-year funding program, which is part of the federal initiative Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. This award will expand efforts in the 50 local areas that account for most new U.S. HIV infections and in seven states with a substantial rural burden of HIV.
CDC awarded funding to state and local health departments to reach all 57 areas prioritized for the first five years of the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. Awards range from $1.9 million to $10.6 million. CDC distributed the available funding based on the severity of the epidemic and the number of focus counties within each state.
“We identified 57 jurisdictions as part of President Trump’s initiative to end the HIV epidemic in America within ten years, and these new grants will help these communities customize and implement strategies for achieving this goal in a way that meets their local needs,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “While we battle COVID-19, the Trump Administration remains dedicated to vital public health priorities, including ending the HIV epidemic within ten years.”
Ending HIV and battling COVID-19
As our nation simultaneously battles COVID-19 and HIV, CDC is working with funded recipients to adapt plans to meet the HIV prevention needs of their communities and address current service challenges and disruptions. Approaches could include use or expansion of telemedicine and telehealth, rapid HIV self-tests, mail-in self-tests, and other locally tailored creative solutions.
Areas that received funding to jump-start activities in 2019 have already seen success with innovations such as:
- Training registered nurses to fill gaps in provider capacity to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to people at high risk for getting HIV;
- Mobilizing community healthcare workers to reach people who don’t regularly access the healthcare system;
- Supporting programs that deliver home-based HIV self-tests;
- Offering express visits for HIV/STD testing in STD clinics.
“Make no mistake – our challenge to end the HIV epidemic– just got immeasurably harder and more complex due to the massive disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health. “We must continue our implementation of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, it is time to double down.”
Addressing racial and ethnic disparities in HIV diagnosis, treatment, and care
In recent years, more than half of all new HIV diagnoses, and almost two-thirds of new HIV diagnosis among Black/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinxs in the U.S. occurred in the 57 areas prioritized for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative. To reduce these disparities and promote health equity, funding recipients will allocate resources to identify groups of people within their jurisdictions that are disproportionately affected by HIV and develop specific plans for reducing these disparities.
“We will not end the HIV epidemic without the voices and participation of the communities most severely affected by HIV,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, MD. “Scientific advancements are powerful, but we won’t end this epidemic unless we commit to addressing the health disparities clearly evident with the HIV epidemic. This funding will assist communities as they address the long-standing gaps in equitable access to advancements in HIV and bring us closer to the finish line.”
Efforts will be guided by comprehensive Ending the HIV Epidemic plans that are tailored by and for each community. While the specifics of implementation will differ by area and funding, each community will work to scale up four key strategies, which together can end the HIV epidemic:
- Diagnosing all people with HIV as early as possible;
- Treating people with HIV rapidly and effectively;
- Preventing new HIV transmissions by using proven interventions such as PrEP and syringe services programs;
- Responding quickly to potential HIV outbreaks.
As part of the $109 million funding effort, CDC awarded a total of $3 million to seven state and local health departments to scale up quality HIV prevention services in STD clinics. STD clinics play a vital role in Ending the HIV Epidemic and provide a critical avenue to reach populations at-risk for HIV who are not engaged in HIV prevention programs or other healthcare services.
In addition to serving as a primary source of STD and HIV prevention services for people without regular access to care, STD clinics serve a high proportion of racial and ethnic minorities, gay and bisexual men, and transgender individuals. This funding will strengthen the infrastructure of STD specialty clinics in the seven locations by increasing HIV and viral-load testing in order to detect new infections and assist people with HIV who are not virally suppressed. Funding also will support linking or reengaging people with HIV in care and increase the number of people receiving PrEP or Non-Occupational Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (nPEP) in the funded STD clinics.
“CDC is determined to provide the resources and flexibility communities will need to end the HIV epidemic while they continue to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “The challenges before us are great, but our resolve to move forward and work together is greater.”