Health centers across the nation achieved significant results in HIV testing, linkage to care, and PrEP starts in the first several months of their work as partners in the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative. In February 2020, 195 health centers in the 57 EHE jurisdictions received a total of $54 million in supplemental resources under the Primary Care HIV Prevention funding opportunity. This first-of-its-kind funding supports health centers to expand outreach, partnerships, and their workforce to increase HIV testing, increase access to and use of PrEP, and link individuals who test positive for HIV to treatment. (View a list of the 195 health centers by state.)
Data from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care indicate that within the first eight months of award (March-November 2020):
- 93% of the health centers hired dedicated staff for a total of 389 full-time equivalent employees working on HIV outreach, testing, linkage to care and treatment, and PrEP services
- Over 573,000 individuals were tested for HIV
- 2,260 individuals tested positive for HIV and received follow-up within 30 days
- Nearly 50,000 individuals at health centers were prescribed PrEP
“The early results achieved by these health centers are truly encouraging,” noted Harold J. Phillips, Senior HIV Advisor and COO of the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative in the HHS Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy. “The work of these health centers on three of the four EHE pillars – prevent, diagnose, and treat – will support each of their communities in moving toward the goal of reducing new HIV infections by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030. We look forward to learning more about which novel approaches and innovations are contributing to these results so we can share those and scale them up elsewhere.”
Health centers are a key point of entry to HIV prevention and treatment services. HRSA considers HIV services to be part of comprehensive primary care services offered by health centers. In fact, in 2019, 2.2 million individuals received an HIV test at a health center. This integrated care approach can reduce transmission of HIV; improve health outcomes for people with HIV; and prevent, identify, and treat co-infections and co-morbidities, such as sexually transmitted infections and substance use disorders.
The initial health centers that received Primary Care HIV Prevention (PCHP) funding in FY20 are continuing their work this year. Recently, HRSA also solicited applications from additional health centers in the EHE jurisdictions to expand the PCHP initiative by up to 175 health centers in the current fiscal year. HRSA encouraged applicants to be innovative in their approaches to HIV prevention and service delivery by using telehealth and mobile units, for example. Applicants were also encouraged to establish or enhance partnerships with community-based organizations to facilitate the referral of individuals in need of HIV prevention services to health centers for testing and PrEP and, as appropriate, to link individuals testing positive for HIV for care and treatment. HRSA plans to announce those awards this summer.
In addition, HRSA funds Primary Care Associations and National Training and Technical Assistance Partners to provide training and technical assistance to support HIV prevention efforts in health centers. These efforts include an emphasis on rural health burden, health information technology, and LGBTQI patient populations. HRSA is working with its training and technical assistance partners to capture the promising practices and successful strategies implemented by health centers during their first year of funding in order to inform and improve HIV prevention services and care delivery across the entire health center network.