Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced four new public-private initiatives on Sunday night aimed at removing barriers that cause some living with HIV/AIDS within the United States to fall out of care.
Sebelius announced the projects — including a new $4.5 million multi-year project with the MAC AIDS Fund called the Care for Life Initiative — during remarks she delivered as the final speaker on the opening night of the 19th International AIDS Conference, which is being held in the United States for the first time since 1990. An estimated 25,000 are in attendance for the week-long conference in D.C.
“Perhaps the most important principle in our national strategy is one we’ve been reminded of over and over again in our response to HIV/AIDS: none of us can do this alone,” Sebelius said. “That’s why we’re making a new effort to reach to community-based organizations, businesses, foundations, NGOs, faith organizations and more.”
The Care for Life Initiative is a collaboration of the MAC AIDS fund, which was established in 1994 to support people who are living with HIV/AIDS across the world, and has three arms that aim to keep people with HIV/AIDS within care, according to a statement from the organization:
- A $4 million partnership with AIDS United over the next three years to create an innovation fund on the both the national and regional levels to improve retention in care and treatment adherence. Geographic focuses will be determined based on need and capacity of the local providers to address that need. It will also involve an open call for proposals.
- Working with the Health Resources and Services Administration, or HRSA, for a pilot launch of UCARE4LIFE, an evidence-based program that will employ mobile texting to improve care retention and medication adherence. With a focus on Southern states, the two-year project consists of developing a message library for delivering phone text notifications to HIV-positive individuals — in English and Spanish — regarding medical appointment reminders and taking medications.
- MAC AIDS Fund will work with HHS and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief to convene a meeting of international leaders in fall 2012 on leveraging global lessons on HIV care. This forum is expected to explore lessons from PEPFAR that can be applied to the United States for best practices on treatment and retention.
According to the MAC AIDS Fund, under the current system, one in two people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States falls out of care.
Nancy Mahon, global executive director of the MAC AIDS Funds, said the Care for Life Initiative is important because it uses new technologies and ideas in its outreach to people with HIV/AIDS.
“We cannot end the epidemic without breakthrough approaches that support and empower those living with HIV/AIDS to stay connected to the care and life-saving treatment they deserve,” Mahon said.
Article continues belowBesides the Care for Life Initiative, Sebelius also hit on the other three initiatives during her remarks. With the pharmaceutical retailer Walgreens, she announced a three-year partnership with the Centers for Disease Control to explore ways in which pharmacies can help patients stay on their medications. According to a news statement, Walgreens is supplying nearly $1 million in in-kind services for this initiative.
With Medscape, a leading provider of online continuing education for U.S. clinicians, Sebelius unveiled partnership training programs with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid to help clinicians better understand and address HIV patients’ needs. According to a news statement, three new training modules have already been created for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.
Finally, Sebelius announced that HHS is partnering with the eight largest AIDS drug companies — Abbot Laboratories, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Gilead, Genentech, Johnson & Johnson, Merck and ViiV — to create a single application form for AIDS medications offered through their patient assistance programs.