HHS Announces “The HIV Challenge” to End Stigma

In late July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched “The HIV Challenge,” a nationwide competition to engage communities to create new, exciting ways to reduce HIV-related stigma and to increase prevention and treatment among racial and ethnic minorities.

The HIV Challenge, a collaboration between the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) and the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH), seeks new, innovative, effective approaches to increase the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among people who are at increased risk for HIV and antiretroviral therapy (ART) among people who are already living with HIV. Phase 1 submissions are open from July 26, 2021, through September 23, 2021. The HIV Challenge competition is open to the public. HHS will award a total of $760,000 to fifteen winners over three phases. The competition is divided into three phases:

Phase 1 (Design of Concept): Participants will develop concepts for community engagement strategies to reduce stigma related to HIV prevention and treatment within a specific population. Up to fifteen submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $20,000.

Phase 2 (Development of Approach): Participants selected to receive a Phase 1 prize will create well-developed approaches for community engagement strategies to reduce stigma related to HIV prevention and treatment. Up to seven submissions may be selected to each receive a prize of up to $40,000.

Phase 3 (Refinement of Approach and Small-Scale Testing): Participants selected to receive Phase 2 prize will test dissemination and uptake of their approaches at a small scale/community level. Up to three submissions may be selected; the winners may receive a prize of up to $60,000.

“In alignment with the National HIV Testing Day and 40th anniversary of the first CDC reporting of HIV and its themes to reenergize and reengage, The HIV Challenge will create an opportunity for on-the-ground voices to participate in developing novel innovative approaches,” OIDP Acting Director, Kaye Hayes said in a press release. “The approaches will address HIV-related stigma in ways that can be successfully implemented within their local communities and replicated in the future.”


For more information about The HIV Challenge submission requirements, deadlines, judging criteria, competition rules, prize amounts, and how to submit a proposal, can be found at: www.challenge.gov/challenge/reduce-HIV-related-stigma.

—Reporting by Hank Trout


Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick.