Working Toward an AIDS-Free Generation

Last week, The Merck Company Foundation launched a new three-year, $3 million initiative, the HIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the United States, to help the local health departments in Atlanta, Houston, and Philadelphia connect more people living with HIV/AIDS to the care they need to stay healthy.

Two years ago, the Obama administration laid out the nation’s first national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. The new HIV Care Collaborative supports its overarching goal to “link people to continuous and coordinated quality care when they are diagnosed with HIV.”

This month in Washington, we had a chance to hear how far we’ve come and how the national strategy has helped make progress just in the last two years.  Of course, much attention has and will be focused on the high burden that still exists around the world. But when we see data that suggests the fight is far from over in the United States, we are reminded that there is much work to be done right here.

Too many people living with HIV/AIDS are not getting the health care they need to stay healthy and contribute to healthy communities. That’s unacceptable.

It is this continued need, especially among underserved populations in high-burden regions of the country, which led The Merck Company Foundation to ask: How exactly can we help? After all, Merck has a long-standing commitment to expanding access to health care and helping respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and the HIV Care Collaborative is an important way the foundation is reinforcing this commitment here in the United States.

Each of the selected health departments will receive up to $1 million over three years to enhance existing efforts and foster innovative approaches to better serve people living with HIV/AIDS and help prevent the spread of the disease. With support from The George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, the communities will address local provider-based and health system challenges and will regularly come together as a group to discuss their work and review promising practices, common problems, and unique challenges. As lessons learned become available, The Merck Company Foundation will share them with public health officials and stakeholders across the country.

Public-private partnership has been essential to the progress we have made over the past 30 years. It’s a model we’re proud to continue to support to help achieve an AIDS-free generation.

Follow our work to help stop HIV/AIDS on our website.

Geralyn Ritter is president of The Merck Company Foundation.

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