Improving the health of racial and ethnic minority persons is a core focus of what we do in our HIV and viral hepatitis policies and programs, given the disproportionate impact of both diseases in minority communities. Theses disparities co-exist with other health problems that can interact with HIV and viral hepatitis. Some of these health problems may put people at-risk for HIV and viral hepatitis or affect their ability to stay in medical care, take medications, and achieve good health outcomes.
These intersecting health issues of concern include substance use disorders and mental health. Among the impacts of the opioid epidemic on the health of so many communities around the country has been a tripling in new hepatitis C infections reported to CDC between 2010 and 2015. The 2015 HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana, was a reminder of the infectious disease consequences of the opioid epidemic. It also reminded us that related health threats can exist without us even recognizing them. In Scott County, 9 out 10 people who were newly diagnosed with HIV also had HCV. It is likely that HCV had spread among PWID long before the outbreak of HIV infection occurred. Mental health affects risk behaviors and interacts with physical health in so many ways. Depression, anxiety, the after effects of sexual abuse, and other aspects of mental health affect people’s risk for getting HIV and the health of people living with HIV. Of course, mental health and substance use are also interconnected and intertwined.
A new funding opportunity, “Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative,” is expected on June 1 from the HHS Office of Minority Health and represents a chance for community-level collaborations to address these key issues affecting the health of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Take a moment to read the information OMH shared below and to think about whether it might offer opportunities to strengthen or expand coordination of responses to these health issues in the community you serve.
From the HHS Office of Minority Health:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) administers grant programs to support projects that implement innovative models to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.
OMH expects to release a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA): Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative. It is anticipated that the FOA will be available on June 1, 2017 with applications due by July 31, 2017 at 5:00 pm ET, and projects to start September 30, 2017.
The Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative will seek to reduce significant health disparities impacting minorities and disadvantaged populations through the implementation of evidence-based strategies with the greatest potential for impact. The program will serve residents in counties disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic; reduce the impact of serious mental illness at the primary care level for children, adolescents and/or adults; and reduce obesity prevalence and disparities in weight status among disadvantaged children and adolescents.
Find out more about this expected FOA here.