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Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Awards FY12 Funds to Address HIV/AIDS in Minority Communities

Dr. Ronald Valdiserri

In late spring, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) announced the Fiscal Year 2012 (FY12) awards by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF). The fund made 29 competitive awards (PDF 2MB) ranging in size from $200,000 to $6,800,000 to ten HHS agencies and offices for a variety of activities that complement existing efforts to address HIV/AIDS in racial and ethnic minority communities.

The competitive awards support a variety of activities from HIV prevention and testing to linkage to and retention in HIV care. They also fund provider capacity development; use of new media to reach specific populations; and adaption, replication and/or dissemination of model HIV programs. The funded activities serve diverse populations including young African American and Latino MSM; minority women receiving services at family planning clinics; Native American-serving healthcare providers; Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders using online social media; racial and ethnic minorities living in southern states; and racial and ethnic minority college students, substance users, individuals in prisons and jails and incarcerated people with HIV who are preparing to return to their communities.

These competitive awards reflect the continuation of efforts encouraged by community stakeholders and the Office of Management and Budget and initiated with last year’s SMAIF awards to more closely align activities supported by the Fund with the goals and priorities of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy while also remaining consistent with the purpose and spirit of the Minority AIDS Initiative, from which the fund is derived. This year, we enhanced our process, using a formal internal funding opportunity announcement (FOA) to proactively solicit competitive proposals from HHS agencies and offices in four program areas: Preventing HIV, Improving HIV Health Outcomes, Mobilization Efforts to Reduce HIV Health Disparities, and Capacity Development in Support of NHAS Goals. We were very pleased with both the enthusiasm and creativity evidenced in our colleagues’ response to this solicitation. In fact, we received proposals for a total request that was nearly double the amount of available funds! Awards were made in each of the four identified program areas.

“This year’s SMAIF competitive awards reflect our continued efforts to better align these resources with the NHAS,” observed Tim Harrison, Ph.D., Senior Policy Advisor in the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. “In addition to continuing to target funds to racial and ethnic minority populations disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, we have also encouraged awardees to prioritize geographic locations with substantial burden of HIV as well as communities with emerging or re-emerging epidemics. And in this cycle we’re working with awardees to better document and disseminate best practices from the funded projects.”

These competitive awards totaled $35,775,000, which is approximately 70% of the total FY12 SMAIF. In addition to these competitive awards, $14.5 million of the remaining FY12 SMAIF has been allocated to a new, innovative, three-year cross-agency demonstration project aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The purpose of the demonstration project is support eligible state and territorial health departments in reducing HIV-related morbidity, mortality, and related health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by addressing social, economic, clinical and structural factors influencing HIV health outcomes. Eligibility for the demonstration project is limited to 18 disproportionately affected areas with a high burden of illness; 12 of the 18 jurisdictions are located in the South. In a future post, we will share more details about this demonstration project, which is being developed and overseen by a cross-agency team that will provide ongoing leadership during all phases of implementation. An additional $500,000 of the FY12 SMAIF has been allocated for an independent assessment and evaluation of this demonstration project during its first year of development and implementation.

OASH and OHAIDP are committed to working with federal, health department and community partners to identify ways to enhance the effectiveness of HIV prevention and care services provided to high-risk minority communities, including services provided through the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund. We believe that the efforts described in this blog are an important step along that path.

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