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HHS awards NJ $375,000 to accelerate end to HIV epidemic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), awarded $375,000 to New Jersey to conduct state and local planning and kick-off community involvement for the proposed federal initiative, Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America, which seeks to reduce new HIV infections in America by 90 percent by 2030.

The funding (Notice of Funding Opportunity PS19-1906) includes two parts:

Accelerating State and Local HIV Planning

$12 million of the HHS Minority HIV/AIDS Fund was awarded to 32 CDC-funded state and local health departments to develop comprehensive Ending the HIV Epidemic plans that are tailored by and for each community. These local plans will be unique to each area because the HIV epidemic affects communities differently. Plans will be based upon a national framework that identified the highest-impact HIV prevention, care, treatment and outbreak response strategies.

This one-time funding has been awarded to health departments that represent the 57 geographic areas that have been prioritized for the first year of the initiative.

National Capacity-Building

The National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD) has been awarded $1.5 million per year from 2019 to 2023, based on the availability of resources, to enhance local health departments’ capacity to end the epidemic in the 57 geographic areas. This effort, which uses CDC HIV prevention funds, will also support strategic communication and policy activities, partnerships, data analyses and technical assistance.

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As part of this work, NASTAD will provide technical assistance in the development of local plans, and will establish, build and maintain collaborative relationships with organizations to support the implementation of the local plans.

“From the very beginning of President Trump’s Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, we have been clear: Defeating this epidemic will only be possible if we listen to the perspectives of people living with HIV and the communities in which they live and work,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. “With these new planning grants, we are excited to support local communities in identifying the stakeholders and steps necessary to halt the spread of HIV, starting in the places where we can make the greatest impact.”

According to HHS, community input has always been critical to HIV prevention and has shaped the development of Ending the HIV Epidemic in many ways. Throughout the year, HHS agencies have sought input from leaders at multiple levels on the national framework — and on steps for moving it forward — during national conferences, webinars, meetings with national organizations, site visits with communities across the country, and ongoing engagement with CDC-funded partners and organizations.

Feedback from these activities led to the integration of several key elements that will shape local planning, including greater flexibility for states and local communities to design and direct approaches that best meet their needs; ongoing inclusion of new, diverse partners in local planning activities; greater emphasis on supporting innovative efforts that overcome barriers to HIV prevention, testing and treatment; and building upon community experience that is already in the field.

If the initiative is funded, states and local areas will begin implementing their Ending the HIV Epidemic plans in 2020.

Health departments will be required to engage members of local communities that are most heavily impacted by HIV, people with HIV, local prevention and care integrated planning bodies, local HIV service providers, new partners, and others. CDC plans to issue additional guidance to ensure robust and diverse community involvement in the development of local plans, which will continue to be refined over time, by the community.

Anthony Vecchione, senior reporter, NJBIZ
Anthony Vecchione
Anthony Vecchione covers health care for NJBIZ. You can contact him at: Avecchione@njbiz.com.

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