Two new initiatives focused on addressing the disproportionate impact of HIV among African Americans were among the issues highlighted during a roundtable discussion held this week by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). ONAP Director Mr. Douglas Brooks, MSW, convened the February 4 gathering of federal colleagues and community leaders to mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
ACCELERATE! Initiative in Baltimore and Jackson
Mr. Bill Collier, head of the North America region for ViiV Healthcare , announced a $10 million multi-year investment by the company to advance concerted community responses to the HIV epidemic among Black gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi. Mr. Collier, also a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), observed that this public-private partnership supports the engagement of numerous stakeholders in developing and applying community-driven strategies to improve access to and retention in quality HIV care for Black MSM, who bear a disproportionate burden of HIV. (Read more about the ACCELERATE! Initiative.)
Remarking on the new initiative, Mr. Brooks noted “As President Obama observed upon release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, ‘the federal government cannot do this alone,’ underscoring that achieving the Strategy’s goals requires the commitment of partners from all sectors of society. ViiV Healthcare’s new ACCELERATE! Initiative is an example of such commitment and has the potential to significantly improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum for Black gay/bisexual/same-gender-loving men, as well as reduce new HIV infections. We are grateful for ViiV’s partnership and look forward to sharing findings from these public-private demonstration projects.”
New HHS Demonstration Project Addressing HIV Disparities Among MSM of Color
Mr. Brooks and Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, also discussed a new initiative announced earlier that day by HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The new four-year demonstration project will be supported by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund and will be designed to address HIV disparities among MSM men of color. This cross-agency project, “Developing Comprehensive Models of HIV Prevention and Care Services for MSM of Color” will support community-based models that provide gay men of color with the health and social services they need to live healthy lives free of HIV infection. For those already infected, the program will support community-based services that help MSM of color get diagnosed, linked to and retained in culturally competent medical, care—including, when called for, substance abuse and mental health treatment as well as necessary social services, like stable housing. CDC will be the lead agency in this effort, which will also involve other HHS agencies and other federal partners. A funding opportunity announcement is anticipated sometime this spring.
Finally, Mr. Brooks and roundtable participants also discussed the investments in domestic HIV/AIDS activities included in the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 Budget released earlier in the week.