HIV :: CDC awards $35 million to support HIV testing and increase early diagnosis of HIV among African Americans

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded $35 million in funding to state and local health departments to increase HIV testing opportunities among populations disproportionately affected by HIV, primarily African Americans. Twenty-three states and major metropolitan areas will receive awards ranging from $690,000 to $5.4 million.

“This program seeks to test more than 1 million people with the primary goal of increasing early HIV diagnosis among African Americans,” said Kevin Fenton, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. “HIV testing provides a critical pathway to prevention and treatment services to prolong the lives of those infected and help stop the spread of HIV in the hardest hit communities across the United States.”

As part of CDC’s efforts to accelerate progress in reducing HIV among African Americans, the program is being targeted to areas of the nation in which African Americans have been most severely impacted. African Americans account for approximately half of the more than 1 million Americans currently estimated to be living with HIV, while comprising 13 percent of the U.S. population.

“HIV among African Americans in our nation remains a major public health crisis,” Dr. Fenton said. “Equipping every American with life-saving information about whether or not they are infected can play a major role in comprehensive efforts to reduce the toll of this devastating disease.”

CDC estimates that a quarter of those living with HIV – more than 250,000 Americans – do not realize they are infected. The testing effort is intended to identify undiagnosed individuals, especially among those populations bearing a disproportionate burden of HIV disease.

“We estimate this program alone could identify nearly 20,000 people who are unaware that they are infected, allowing them to seek care for their own health and take steps to protect their partners,” Dr. Fenton said.

Through this program HIV tests will be available primarily in clinical settings, such as emergency departments, community health centers, STD clinics, and correctional health facilities. While about 10 percent of the tests will be administered in non-clinical settings, the main focus of the program will be to implement routine, voluntary HIV testing in health care settings, where opportunities to screen patients for HIV are often missed.

The awards will help put into practice CDC’s 2006 Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings. Funds will be used to support HIV testing and related activities including linkage to care, partner counseling and referral services, and the purchase of HIV tests.

A particular focus for the program will be integrating HIV testing activities with screening and prevention activities for other infections, such as viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. Because populations disproportionately affected by HIV are also disproportionately affected by these infections, integrating these services can significantly improve health.

Eligibility and funding amounts were based upon the percentage of AIDS cases among African Americans in each jurisdiction. The states receiving funding are: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. The cities receiving funding are Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City.

The $35 million is part of a new $45 million program to expand access to HIV testing. The remaining $10 million will support a range of CDC programs to provide needed training to health care providers, mobilize communities to encourage HIV testing among African Americans, and reach both providers and those at risk with information on the importance of testing.

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