Advocates for people living with HIV have made tremendous progress in ending the HIV epidemic in Tennessee. Bolstered by federal funding, local health departments and community-based organizations have built trust within the communities they serve. Their efforts have led to more early diagnosis and treatment of people living with HIV.
Through their hard work, the number of people on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), the life-saving medication that suppresses the virus, rose from 183 in 2014 to nearly 7,000 in 2021. Even more impressive, the number of Tennesseans on PrEP increased by 44% between 2020 and 2021 (AIDS United).
But now that progress faces a major roadblock. Effective May 31, 2023, the State of Tennessee will no longer accept 1802 and Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) prevention pass-through grants available from the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC). The State intends to assume direct financial and managerial responsibility for the services. According to the Infectious Disease Society of American, the State receives more than $8 million from CDC grant programs. Funds for Tennessee’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part B and ADAP will not be affected, nor will federal funds allocated to counties in the state (NASTAD).
What is 1802 Funding?
The CDC makes 1802 funding available to health departments to implement an integrated HIV surveillance and prevention program to prevent new infections and achieve viral suppression among people living with HIV.
Ending the HIV Epidemic Funding
Each year, the federal budget includes funding designed to end the epidemic by preventing new infections. Services covered include:
- Delivering HIV care through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
- Expanding access to HIV testing, linkage to care, PrEP, and coverage of associated services through the Health Center Program
- Diagnosis, prevention, and treatment initiatives for HIV, hepatitis C, and sexually transmitted diseases (STIs)
- Research projects
Tennessee Programs are Now at Risk
Advocates have voiced concerns that the decision to reject CDC funding will jeopardize healthcare services for people living with HIV, especially their ability to receive PrEP and the required support services associated with the medication. HIV rates could skyrocket throughout the State if funding to community-based organizations is reduced or eliminated. Local health departments and community programs, such as Alliance Healthcare Services (AHS), Cathedral of Praise, and OUTMemphis, fear they will lose funding necessary to provide HIV testing and impact their ability to link people living with HIV to needed care.
Time will tell what level of funding the State will provide to support these critical programs and services, and whether HIV rates will rise. It is important to be vigilant to keep the HIV epidemic under control in Tennessee.
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