Across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies and offices are studying the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and examining their programs, policies and resources to identify ways to better align them with the goals and priorities articulated in the Strategy. These efforts will be reflected in the HHS NHAS Implementation Plan, which the President has requested by December 9.
Meeting regularly and conferring frequently throughout the development process, agency and office representatives are also exploring ways that we can enhance collaboration with other government and community partners. In his memorandum to executive agencies that accompanied the release of the NHAS, the President noted, “Successful implementation of the Strategy will require new levels of coordination, collaboration, and accountability. This will require the Federal Government to work in new ways across agency lines, as well as in enhanced and innovative partnerships with State, tribal, and local governments.”
An important way in which HHS agencies will seek to meet the goals of the NHAS is through a special cross-agency, multi-jurisdictional project that will focus on 12 geographic areas most heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. Building on CDC’s recently awarded grants for “Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning and Implementation for Metropolitan Statistical Areas Most Affected by HIV/AIDS,” other agencies, including HRSA, IHS, NIH, and SAMHSA, are actively exploring ways that they can build upon this platform and work collaboratively with CDC. While still being developed, their joint activities will result in the following outcomes in each of the 12 jurisdictions:
- coordinated planning for HIV prevention, care and treatment
- federally funded HIV/AIDS resources mapped in each jurisdiction
- assessment of the current distribution of HIV prevention, care and treatment resources
- development of cross-agency strategies to address gaps in coverage or scale of necessary HIV prevention, care and treatment services
- coordinated implementation of and capacity building for delivering strategies and interventions addressing HIV prevention, care and treatment
- opportunities to blend services and, where appropriate, funding steams across federal programs
Multi-agency collaborative efforts of this type are earning praise from the field as well. Laura Hanen, Director of Government Relations at the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) , heard of this project at my presentation at the PACHA meeting on 9/30/10. She recently told us, “…[this project] represents an exciting and definitive step in the implementation of the NHAS.”
Next week, representatives from across HHS reconvene to share their agency- or office-specific plans as well as to further refine ideas for innovative collaborations that demonstrate their commitment to cooperating in new and meaningful ways designed to make significant strides toward realizing the NHAS goals.