The Big Picture
We have more tools and information at our disposal than ever before.
The mission of AIDS United is to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, and it’s this mission that drives all that we do. We recognize that we have more tools—and information—at our disposal than ever before and we’re able to address this epidemic with exacting precision previously unimaginable.
To maximize our efforts and ensure every dollar, every effort, and every step of the way is headed in the right direction we employ a multipronged, proven approach. This includes the following targeted efforts, which are outlined in more detail in the annual report sections to follow.
We strategically prioritize where our investments go so that we can make the greatest impact in achieving our mission. This includes staying abreast of best practices in HIV treatment and care as well as changes in surveillance and epidemiological data so every effort is a targeted intervention for patients and communities alike.
Advancing the Care Continuum. The care continuum—often called the treatment cascade—is a way to show, in visual form, the numbers of individuals living with HIV who know their status, who are linked and retained in care, who are on treatment, and who are virally suppressed. Now that we know definitively that viral suppression is not only critical to improved health outcomes for those infected, but in stopping potential for further transmission, the care continuum has given the HIV world a common lens to look through and evaluate our work. It has underscored the need for removing barriers to care as well as the promise of what’s possible when we effectively target resources. To support such efforts we funded activities such as our Access to Care (A2C) and Retention in Care (RiC) initiatives, which have seen incredible successes. The A2C work was held up as a national model in a 2013 White House Office of National AIDS Policy report on improving outcomes along the care continuum.
Of the 1.1 million Americans living with HIV, only 25% are virally suppressed.
Addressing Health Disparities. While so many great strides have been made in our understanding of disease progression and treatment, prevalence and health disparities still increasingly affect racial and ethnic minorities including gay and bisexual men, women of color, and substance users (such as injection drug users). As such, we’ve focused grants to those communities most disproportionately affected, including our EMPOWERED Community Grants project and our Syringe Access project. In Puerto Rico, we funded recent work to help curtail the island’s high HIV death rate and prevalence among its residents. In the Deep South, lack of infrastructure, continued stigma, and delayed testing have impacted the epidemic. To assist local organizations we funded our Southern REACH project. We do this because we know that often times the power to address local challenges require community-driven responses.
Successfully addressing HIV requires sharing lessons learned, increasing workforce capacity, and improving uptake of best practices. To facilitate this, AIDS United supports both the Sector Transformation initiative to help communities in restructuring efforts and AmeriCorps, which addresses workforce shortages across the country. In an effort to increase capacity and re-engage lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) organizations to focus on more HIV/AIDS work, we created the m2MPower project. With adequate capacity and active commitment, communities and providers can play their critical part in ending AIDS.
To make broad-scale change requires influencing policy. AIDS United is at the forefront of policy efforts from helping to lead AIDSWatch where stakeholders from across the country came to Capitol Hill to our Public Policy Committee (PPC) to the legislative activities we do day in and day out. We know that treatment is prevention and access to that treatment is critical to improved health outcomes and in curtailing the epidemic. We also know that barriers such as discrimination continue even today. For these reasons our myriad policy efforts are focused not only on improving care and treatment access but in removing those barriers that exist.
To keep a finger on the pulse, AIDS United actively sends out weekly electronic policy updates and communicates with stakeholders and grantees on the frontlines. Doing so ensures we’re working together, and working together we can do more. Now is the time.