Three years ago on World AIDS Day, President Obama announced $50 million to address the gaps in the HIV Continuum of Care. Of that $50 million, $15 million was directed to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to focus on the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
In FY 2012, HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB) and Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) collaborated to implement the “Increasing Access to HIV Care and Treatment” (IAHCT) initiative. Through this initiative, HRSA provided $10 million in supplemental funding to 275 Ryan White HIV clinical sites, including 134 dually-funded health centers. The remaining $5 million was used to competitively fund 14 new Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part C grantees.
Recipients of the IAHCT funds were challenged to decrease the gaps in the HIV Continuum of Care by expanding outreach and HIV testing activities for high-risk populations, extending service hours for HIV medical care and by increasing critical support services. Grantees enhanced their systems of care to further identify, link, re-engage and retain people living with HIV in care. In support of this initiative, funds were also used to hire additional providers experienced in HIV primary care.
During the first year of IAHCT, the 275-funded grantees linked 24,526 patients to HIV care, including 13,142 who were engaged in care for the first time – more than doubling the President’s goal of engaging 7,500 new patients.
In FY 2013, the President asked that an additional 7,500 patients be enrolled or re-engaged in care. For a second year, the grantees were able to greatly surpass expectations with preliminary data showing that at least 18,777 patients were reached for a total of 43,303 patients over the two year life of IAHCT.
Linkage, engagement and retention of persons living with HIV in the healthcare system is a critical step to ensuring that patients have access to the care and medications needed to live a healthy life. When patients are engaged and retained in care, they are more likely to have a suppressed viral load. A nation with a high viral suppression rate is a nation that will get to zero new infections and meet the goals set forth in its National HIV/AIDS Strategy. HRSA would like to thank all of our grantees for their tireless work on the IAHCT Initiative.