Fulton County Health Services has been chosen to be a part of a three-year, $3 million initiative that will support three public health departments (Houston and Philadelphia in addition to Fulton County) to connect more people living with HIV in high-burden communities to the care they need to stay healthy.Â The initiative will be launched at the start of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. with funding support from the Merck Company Foundation.
â€śWe are honored to have been selected for this new initiative to help us connect more of our residents who have HIV to assure they receive effective, high-quality treatment,â€ť said Patrice A. Harris, MD, Director Fulton County Health Services. â€śWe look forward to working with all of our partners at the national level and as well as locally over the next three years.â€ť
The HIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the United States aligns with the Presidentâ€™s National HIV/AIDS Strategyâ€™s goals which include entering and retaining more patients in care and is designed to support existing programs that have the greatest potential to reduce new HIV infections.Â Â
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, with 50,000 new infections each year.Â An Emory University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) study found that the HIV epidemic in metropolitan Atlanta is concentrated primarily in the downtown area. Â The HIV prevalence rate in this area exceeds 1.34 percent and is compatible with the World Health Organizationâ€™s description of an â€śepidemic.â€ťÂ
To help address barriers to HIV care, especially among underserved populations, The Merck Company Foundation established a new, three-year initiative to connect more people living with HIV to the care they need to stay healthy. The Foundation has committed $3 million to support the three local health departments to bolster HIV care and prevention in each community.Â Nearly a third or more of those known to have HIV are not in care, and these cities are among the top 10 with the highest HIV burden in the U.S.
Fulton County Health Servicesâ€™ Bridging the Gap will focus on HIV-positive clients referred to and enrolled in the countyâ€™s HIV Primary Care Clinic by implementing a community-based Linkage Coordinator and referral program.Â