CDC Awards $117 Million to Advance Health Equity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on July 27, 2021, that it has awarded $117 million to state and local health departments “to help rebuild and begin to expand HIV prevention and treatment efforts as the U.S. continues to respond to COVID-19.” As part of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative, the awards were distributed among the fifty-seven priority areas identified in the EHE, enabling local entities to expand and tailor HIV prevention strategies to meet community needs. Individual awards range from $1.9 million to $10.6 million, based on the burden of the epidemic and the number of focus counties within each state.

“We are committed to making the end of HIV in the U.S. a reality,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a press release. “That is why this initiative and responding to COVID-19’s impact on the HIV epidemic is so critical to tackle for the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Innovative community-driven solutions are essential to the success of the EHE. Recipients of these new funds have presented plans for how they will use these and other funds to carry out each of the initiative’s four key strategies to meet local needs.

EHE also works to address racial, ethnic, and geographic disparities and to achieve health equity through a comprehensive approach: providing resources where they are needed the most and meeting people where they are with the services they need. This includes acknowledging the root causes of these disparities (such as poverty, unequal access to health care, limited education and employment opportunities, systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, stigma and discrimination) and working to implement policies, practices, and programs that help overcome these obstacles.

“Longstanding inequities continue to contribute to severe disparities among people with HIV,” said Demetre Daskalakis, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “That is why this initiative encourages a comprehensive, whole-person approach to care that not only provides treatment and prevention but addresses core needs and the social determinants of health that contribute to disparities.”

Acknowledging the fundamental role that community-based organizations play in providing HIV prevention and care services, the CDC requires that at least one-quarter of recipient funding go to fund activities implemented by CBOs. The CDC is planning to award an additional $9 million later this year to support at least sixty front-line CBOs to develop self-testing programs and distribute self-test kits in these communities.

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—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.