Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund Supports SAMHSA Effort to Enhance Syringe Services Partnerships

Content From: Timothy Harrison, PhD, Senior Policy Advisor, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: May 18, 20162 min read


Tim Harrison - cropped May 2016
Dr. Timothy Harrison
The Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF) supports efforts to prevent new HIV infections and reduce drop-offs along the HIV care continuum for racial and ethnic minorities who bear a disproportionate burden of HIV disease. With SMAIF resources, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) recently announced the availability of supplemental funding to enable its existing Minority AIDS Initiative Continuum of Care (MAI-CoC) grantees to establish and/or enhance partnerships with existing syringe services programs (SSPs).

SSP partnerships play an important role in protecting the health of those at risk for and living with HIV and preventing HIV and hepatitis C transmission. Through these partnerships, current MAI-CoC grantees can link the culturally competent behavioral health services they provide to HIV and hepatitis services in racial/ethnic minority communities.

Partnership activities may include such efforts as enhanced risk assessments and testing for HIV and/or hepatitis C, referral to HIV and/or hepatitis C treatment services, and increased access to behavioral health prevention and treatment programs. They may also include increasing HIV prevention counseling, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for those at high risk of acquiring HIV infection. Learn more.

This grant opportunity is limited to current grantees, and—reflecting the purpose of the SMAIF—will target racial/ethnic minority populations at high risk for or having behavioral health disorders, and at high risk for or living with HIV.

Unsafe injection drug use continues to play an alarming role in the spread of HIV and hepatitis C in communities throughout the U.S. Expanding the reach of SSPs and the services that these programs provide is a valuable prevention strategy that reflects the National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s focus on the “right people, right places, and right practices.”