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ViiV Healthcare Expands HIV/AIDS Community Support In Hard-Hit Southern U.S.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Sept. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- ViiV Healthcare announced today the first Positive Action Southern Initiative (PASI) grant awardees in Texas and Virginia and seven grant awards to current network members in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee . Recipients could receive up to $50,000 per year for a provisional commitment over the next two years to support and expand existing programs focused on linking people living with HIV and at-risk populations into prevention and care services and/or enhancing their treatment adherence and delaying disease progression.

Award recipients include:
  • San Antonio AIDS Foundation (SAAF), located in San Antonio, TX, will enhance their existing medical case management program through the provision of early intervention services. SAAF's early intervention specialist will collaborate with two HIV/AIDS medical clinics to identify those in need and link them to care and intensive case management. 
  • International AIDS Empowerment, located in El Paso, TX, will expand the Vivamos! Program by adding a Retention in Care (RIC) component. The RIC Navigator will work with clinical partners and the Linkage to Care Coordinator to help coordinate comprehensive care through case management to directly address barriers to care for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
  • AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASG), located in Charlottesville, VA, will expand the Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Resources and Linkages for Inmates (C.H.A.R.L.I.) Program to include mental health counseling for recently released PLWHA.   
  • Basic NWFL, Inc., located in Panama City, FL, will expand its U R CONNECTED program to provide counseling, phone check-ins, support groups, and other face-to-face engaging strategies to link PLWHA to care and improve adherence.
  • Big Bend Cares, Inc., located in Tallahassee, FL, will utilize funding to expand Project ACT (Assisting Clients to Treatment) that currently focuses on retention to care for African American men who have sex with men (MSM) to include white MSM and black heterosexuals, especially black women. The expansion will use Peer Navigators who will better serve women of color and white MSM through client counseling and adherence education.
  • Rural Women's Health Project, located in Gainesville, FL, will continue the 'Let's Talk About It' (LTAI) women's HIV-positive Peer Advocate program, reaching HIV-positive women and female caregivers in the rural North Central Florida counties and helping them to remain in care. Funding will be used to develop new testimonial materials and a peer blog, as well as to expand the LTAI workshops into additional rural areas.
  • Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network, Inc. (JASMYN), located in Jacksonville, FL, will support linkages to HIV care, treatment retention, medication adherence, and adoption of risk reduction behaviors for HIV-positive young African American gay, bisexual and other young men who have sex with men (YSMSM) ages 13 - 23, though linkage coordination, case management, internal referrals to risk reduction programs, advocacy, and collaboration. 
  • Nashville CARES, located in Nashville, TN, will enhance the IAMSTRONG peer-based health and adherence education and support for PLWHA by integrating the program model into the entire Nashville CARES services environment. The expansion will also include the creation of a CARES Cafe, a safe social space at the agency staffed by trained peers, where PLWHA can engage each other in discussions about proactive strategies for successful treatment adherence and management of HIV health needs.
  • South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council, located in Columbia, SC, will utilize funding on the PHAROAH behavioral risk reduction intervention that targets predominately African American HIV-positive incarcerated men and is designed to increase their HIV knowledge, enrollment and adherence to HIV medical care and treatment, and reduce sexual risk taking behaviors post incarceration.
  • Western North Carolina AIDS Project, located in Asheville, NC, will develop pilot telehealth sites to improve linkage to HIV care and treatment adherence in 14 rural counties in North Carolina.

"Over the past three years we've witnessed the power of innovative community programming as an effective way of providing strong HIV education, local hands-on support to the HIV community, and resources that greatly impact disease prevention in the Southern U.S.," said Bill Collier, Senior Vice President and General Manager North America, ViiV Healthcare. "We have seen the impressive results our partners on the ground have achieved thus far, and are excited to expand on this important work and build on the foundation that has been established by providing renewed funding as well as welcoming new organizations to the network."

This new expansion into Texas and Virginia now brings the program's mission of reducing disparities in HIV/AIDS care and treatment among disproportionately-affected African-American and Latino populations to a total of 10 Southern states – Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The initiative reflects the White House National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which prioritizes directing resources to areas and populations that have the greatest need. The Southern United States is disproportionately impacted by HIV/AIDS, representing 45 percent of all new AIDS diagnoses i, with new infection rates highest among African-American, followed by Latino populations.

In addition to receiving funding, grantees also become part of the Southern Initiative Network, a resource that supports grantees and grantee finalists through networking activities, including opportunities to share lessons learned with one another and with other community experts.

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