The Southern Initiative will fund and equip local organizations to address the HIV epidemic in four cities. The partnership hopes that the insights gained from the three-year push will fuel changes across the country.
This week, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and Cicatelli Associates, Inc. (CAI), a healthcare and social services nonprofit, kicked off the Southern Initiative, a three-year project aimed at boosting the prognosis of minorities afflicted with HIV in the South.
Atlanta, Houston, Memphis, and New Orleans—cities that have been designated by the Health Resources & Services Administration as being heavily affected by the HIV epidemic—are the focus of the initiative. Early next year, the Southern Initiative will choose several organizations in each of the cities—ranging from health centers to community organizations—that are poised to execute creative solutions to address the problem.
“In alignment with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, interventions will focus on establishing systems to seamlessly link people to care immediately after HIV diagnosis, and support retention in care to achieve viral suppression,” according to a NACHHO press release. “For those who test negative, interventions will support prevention counseling and planning, including PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.”
Each of the selected organizations will receive both funding and technical assistance to implement “innovative, evidence-based interventions designed to improve health outcomes along the HIV care continuum for minority populations in the project jurisdictions,” said Nicholas Parr, MPH, senior program analyst at NACCHO and project manager of the Southern Initiative.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s recently diagnosed cases of HIV disproportionately show up in the South, and health outcomes for those afflicted with HIV are particularly poor in the Southern states.
“Health disparities among our minority communities is a public health problem that must be addressed,” said NACCHO Executive Director LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, in the press release.
The initiative, which is funded and supported by Department of Health and Human Services and Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, not only hopes to make a real and lasting impact in these four cities but also seeks to gain insights and solutions that can be applied to a broader swath of the South.
“NACCHO will broadly disseminate effective practices and lessons learned from the project among its nearly 3,000 member health departments to support the improvement of HIV outcomes among minority populations across the Southern U.S., as well as throughout the country,” Parr said.