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World AIDS Day 2016: SAMHSA’s Leadership, Commitment, and Impact

Today, over one million Americans are living with HIV.  One out of eight people with HIV is unaware of their HIV infection.  Every year, on December 1st, World AIDS Day is observed to reflect on those whom we have lost to AIDS, and the many lives we can save in the years to come.

World AIDS Day is significant to SAMHSA’s mission, as behaviors associated with substance use and mental disorders are risk factors for HIV.  SAMHSA is the lead agency addressing behavioral health risk factors for people living with HIV/AIDS and provides grant opportunities to support:

  • Mental and substance use disorder treatment.
  • Delivering and sustaining quality and accessible substance misuse, HIV and hepatitis prevention services
  • HIV and hepatitis testing with case management and recovery support.
  • Referrals and linkage to care for those identified with HIV or hepatitis.

HIV programs in SAMHSA are funded through the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI), created by Congress in 1998 in response to the growing concern about the impact of HIV/AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in our country.  The MAI’s primary goals are to improve HIV-related health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority communities disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, and to reduce HIV-related health disparities.  To accomplish these goals, we focus our efforts on a few priorities strengthening the organizational capacity of community-based providers, especially providers serving minority populations; improving the quality of HIV services; expanding the number of HIV service providers; and enhancing the ability of minority service providers to compete for other HIV/AIDS funding in the future.

SAMHSA MAI grantees are taking a collaborative, integrated, holistic approach to prevention and treatment…and making an impact.  Through SAMHSA-funded programs, we are providing much needed information and supports for individuals who are living with or at high risk for substance use disorders, and co-occurring disorders and HIV/AIDS.  We are improving access to screening and diagnosis and increasing linkages to care, which can result in viral suppression among people who inject drugs.  We are reaching people in need, including racial/ethnic populations at high-risk for HIV and Hepatitis infection such as men who have sex with men (MSM), Black and Latino men and women, lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) and transgender populations, and people who inject drugs.  And, we are changing and saving lives, and strengthening our communities.

SAMHSA also receives The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds which support behavioral health technical assistance in Vietnam, South Africa, and Ukraine provided by SAMHSA’s Addiction Technology and Transfer Centers (ATTC).  In addition, through a regional initiative, SAMHSA will have staff in Southeast Asia, Ukraine and South Africa to address substance use and co-occurring mental disorders to decrease the impact on new HIV infections and improve adherence to HIV treatment. In Vietnam the HIV epidemic is strongly linked to injection drug use.  With SAMHSA’s involvement since 2004, the country has shifted from placing persons with substance use disorder in re-education camps to developing and operating methadone treatment programs throughout the country.

As we observe World AIDS Day 2016 under the unifying federal theme of “Leadership, Commitment, Impact” SAMHSA stays united with our many partners to change the course of this epidemic and show our support for people at risk for or living with HIV.  For resources, and ways that you can increase awareness, visit AIDS.gov and the World AIDS Day website.