We know that HIV treatment works — both by improving individual health and by dramatically reducing the likelihood of transmitting HIV — and yet, less than one-third of people living with HIV are consistently receiving HIV care and have an undetectable viral load. Improving this rate by expanding access and adherence to care is critical if we are to end AIDS in the United States.
That’s where the AIDS United Access to Care and Retention in Care initiatives are working hand-in-hand to identify, fund, scale, and evaluate innovative and replicable models that help people living with HIV get the care they need to be healthy.
Both initiatives share a deep commitment to meticulously evaluating grantee models at a local and national level, documenting the ability of programs to improve individual health, affecting systems change, measuring cost effectiveness, and improving the lives of people living with HIV.
From focusing on the power of peers, creating mobile app-based support systems, and improving access to stable housing — the grantees are approaching old problems with fresh ideas and are making measurable progress in our work to end the AIDS epidemic.
Medical AIDS Outreach
Using Telemedicine to Reach Rural Alabama
Faced with Alabama’s rapidly increasing need for HIV care and the state’s anemic health care infrastructure, Medical AIDS Outreach (MAO) of Alabama, an Access to Care grantee, turned to technology as a way to level the playing field. MAO established the Alabama eHealth program to deliver high-quality care in underserved and disproportionately impacted communities in rural parts of the state. Using telemedicine, they empower rural Alabama residents to access the quality of care they deserve in the communities where they live.
The program was so successful it was noticed by the White House and MAO was invited to present at the What Works Showcase!
TIn December 2015, MAO worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama to allow for reimbursement of telemedicine visits. This helps cement the long-term sustainability of this game-changing program.
Access to and Retention in Care grantees serve some of the most underserved populations, from people recently incarcerated and those living in rural America to mono-lingual Spanish-speaking women in California and transgender women in Philadelphia.
Across both portfolios, individuals served are performing better than national averages on measures that matter most.
This is especially notable in light of the “hard-to-reach” clients served — individuals dealing with profound barriers to care including, mental health issues, active substance use, unstable housing, incarceration, and other challenges.
The Power of CHANGE and Christie’s Place
The Christie’s Place Coordinated HIV Assistance and Navigation for Growth and Empowerment (CHANGE) for Women program, funded by the Retention in Care initiative, is a trauma-informed and gender-responsive bio/psycho/social model that comprehensively and systematically addresses the intersecting structural barriers to retention in care faced by women living with HIV. This innovative program has demonstrated results.