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Health Equity in HIV Services and Prevention

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recently has awarded nearly $35 million in grant funding to bring essential behavioral health services and HIV prevention and care to historically underserved populations. Health equity remains a critical focus of the Biden-Harris Administration, and these funds represent the continued commitment by the administration to address and remedy inequity of care.

Addressing the mental health crisis and beating the opioid epidemic are two core pillars of President Biden’s Unity Agenda for the nation. The grant awards facilitate ongoing efforts throughout the nation in treatment, recovery support, and harm reduction, advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy and supports the goals of the National HIV AIDS Strategy.

“The Administration remains deeply invested in ensuring those who need prevention services, treatment, and support receive the essential care they need,” says HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The dedicated work of these awardees ensures our best efforts are thoughtfully and strategically implemented where they are most needed.”

“These specific funds will help support programs that bring special emphasis to those who have historically not had equitable access to behavioral health care and infectious disease services,” says Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, the HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, and the leader of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “The HIV prevention and substance use services provided through this grant will help to improve overall health and wellness of individuals and communities across the country.”

The awards include the following:

· $21.9 million for the Minority AIDS Initiative: Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations at High Risk for HIV/AIDS. This program increases engagement in care for racial and ethnic medically underserved individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) and/or co-occurring SUDs and mental health conditions who are at risk for or living with HIV. Award recipients will take a syndemic approach to SUD, HIV, and viral hepatitis.

· $10.5 million for the Minority AIDS Initiative: Substance Use and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Prevention Navigator Program for Racial/Ethnic Minorities. This program provides substance use and HIV prevention services to racial and ethnic minority populations at high risk for SUDs and HIV infection. The program places emphasis on those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, and intersex persons who are not in stable housing and/or reside in communities with high rates of HIV, viral hepatitis (including Hep A, B, and C), and/or sexually transmitted infections.

· $1.9 million for the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund: Integrated Behavioral Health and HIV Care for Unsheltered Populations Pilot Project. This pilot program provides comprehensive health care for racial and ethnic medically underserved people experiencing unsheltered homelessness through the delivery of portable clinical care delivered outside that is focused on the integration of behavioral health and HIV treatment and prevention services.

— Source: US Department of Health and Human Services