AIDS United Announces $1 Million Investment in Grants to Help HIV-Positive People Stay in Care

New $4M Multi-Year Retention in Care Initiative Supported by the MAC AIDS Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- February 4, 2013 – Thanks to a $4 million investment by the MAC AIDS Fund and a unique partnership with AIDS United, $1 million in initial grants have been awarded to seven organizations across the U.S. to help define and expand programs that help keep HIV-positive people in care and on treatment.

At a time where treatment has proven effective not only in prolonging the life of those infected with HIV, but in substantially reducing transmission of new infections, retention in care has proven critical to the continued fight against the disease.

“As a person living with HIV, I’ve always known treatment can make a huge difference in my own health, but recent research has made clear that early treatment can also play a serious role in stopping new transmissions” said Michael Kaplan, AIDS United President & CEO. Kaplan said that a study from the National Institutes of Health (HIV) called HPTN 052 showed early treatment of HIV-positive people can reduce sexual transmission of HIV to uninfected partners by 96%.

Despite the significant promise early treatment holds for both people infected and for community prevention efforts, substantial social and structural barriers often cause HIV-positive people to drop out of care. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimate that only 41% of HIV-positive individuals in the United States are retained in care.

According to Kaplan, underserved populations -- particularly those living in poverty – are at highest risk of dropping out of care.

“Over the next three years, our grantees will be developing innovative and intensive ways to work with PLWHA in their communities and ensure they are consistently retained in the life-saving care they need,” said Kaplan.

“At this pivotal time in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the U.S., the MAC AIDS Fund’s Retention in Care Initiative with AIDS United presents us with a unique opportunity to make a meaningful difference for the people who need it most,” said Nancy Mahon, Global Executive Director of the MAC AIDS Fund.

“By supporting community-specific strategies to keep people in care, the Retention in Care Initiative helps advance two pillars of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: optimizing health outcomes for PLWHA and reducing new infections. By supporting programs that deal directly with the most marginalized, underserved people who are at the highest risk of infection, this partnership exemplifies our mission at the MAC AIDS Fund.”

The first cohort of Retention in Care grantees are:

  • AIDS Alabama, Birmingham, AL
    For a project to increase retention among a highly impoverished group of rural and urban, African- American men and women in Alabama; the project includes tracking of the effects of Intimate Partner Violence on retention in care as well as a provider learning network and the use of new technology to track data.
  • BOOM!Health, Bronx, NY
    For a retention intervention for homeless and substance using individuals in the Bronx, who can access medical services, an in-house pharmacy and case management in a one stop shop.
  • Christie's Place , San Diego, CA
    To explicitly address trauma as a part of comprehensive retention services for women of color in San Diego, and working towards sustainability as the nation moves toward full implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Institute for Public Health Innovation, Prince George's County, MD
    For a community health worker retention-in-care model implemented across a network of service providers in an area of Maryland disproportionately affected by HIV. 
  • Mazzoni Center , Philadelphia, PA
    For an intensive retention initiative targeted exclusively to transgendered individuals in Philadelphia, PA that includes a drop-in center where clients can receive wrap-around services.
  • The Open Door, Pittsburgh, PA
    For a harm-reduction housing model for substance-abusing HIV-positive people in Pittsburgh, PA, that is highly replicable due to its low operational costs.
  • The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
    For an innovative program model utilizing a smart phone app and a virtual community to retain individuals in the most rural parts of Virginia.