The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking aim at reducing the estimated 50 000 new HIV cases in the United States that occur each year by strategically shifting funds for HIV prevention to reach the communities most at risk for the disease.
The CDC announced today it began awarding almost $339 million to state and local health departments across the country to fund HIV prevention activities this year. The awards are for the first year of a 5-year funding cycle and are meant to be a critical component of the agency’s new “high-impact” approach to HIV prevention, intended to better align resources to reach communities most affected by HIV today.
According to the CDC, the vast majority of the 1.2 million US individuals who have been infected with HIV are untreated or undertreated. Nearly 1 in 5 are not aware they are infected, don’t get HIV care, and can unknowingly transmit the virus. The agency notes that certain groups, such as blacks and Hispanics, are disproportionately affected by HIV.
The funds will be allocated based on the number of people reported to be living with an HIV diagnosis in a state or local jurisdiction in 2008 (the most current year with HIV burden data). Earlier in the epidemic, health department funding allocations were based on the number of AIDS cases in a department’s region; allocations will now be based on HIV data, which the CDC noted is a better indicator of the epidemic’s current burden because less than half of all US individuals living with HIV have illness that has progressed to AIDS. However, every jurisdiction will still receive at least some funding to help continue basic HIV prevention activities.
The CDC will allocate $284 million to core prevention programs, such as HIV testing, prevention with HIV-positive individuals, and condom distribution for those at high risk of acquiring HIV. The agency is allocating $54.8 million to expand HIV testing for disproportionately affected populations. Jurisdictions with at least 3000 black or Hispanic residents living with an HIV diagnosis in 2008 are eligible for this additional funding.
“With 50 000 new HIV infections every year and a tough economic environment, the need to do more with existing resources is greater than ever,” said Kevin Fenton, MD, PhD, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, in a release. “This new approach to prevention funding is designed to focus on the places where needs are most urgent and on the programs that will have the most far-reaching impact.”