Care Resource today announced that it is one of three program grantees supported through HIV Care Connect, a $7 million, five-year initiative established by the Merck Foundation to help reduce disparities in access to care and improve health outcomes for persons with HIV living in vulnerable and underserved Southeastern U.S. communities.
In South Florida, the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metropolitan area led the nation in new HIV diagnoses in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Miami-Dade County and Broward County, there were 1,892 new HIV diagnoses in 2017 combined. Certain populations also face additional barriers to accessing high-quality HIV care, resulting in substantial disparities that persist throughout the HIV care continuum.
Reducing disparities in access to HIV care and treatment requires multilevel strategies to improve linkage to and long-term engagement in HIV care. It also requires collaboration among local health organizations and community-based support agencies to address barriers to care associated with social determinants of health, which include economic stability, neighborhood and physical environment, education, stigma, social context and trust in the health care system.
"The goal is to complement what's being offered through our existing HIV service delivery system while bringing additional resources to bear on one key patient health outcome: viral suppression. The project team will focus on addressing the specific realities of those patients who are not fully engaged in their care and/or are not achieving or maintaining viral suppression. Together with our partners, we can leverage existing community resources, programs, and local expertise in order to reduce the gaps in access and retention to care", said Ron Ledain, Director of Marketing, Health Promotion and Linkage at Care Resource.
Care Resource through Project DA²RE (Disparities in care Addressed through Access, Retention, and Equity) aims to reduce disparities in health outcomes for low-income persons of color, men who have sex with men, and transgender persons living with HIV in Miami-Dade County including Liberty City, Overtown, Little Haiti, North Miami and Miami Beach. The project will identify barriers of access to health care and provide a broad range of services to address these vulnerabilities. Care Resource will partner with Pridelines to coordinate care and patient-centered interventions, strategies, and support to enhance patients' self-management and motivation to access and stay in care.
"We need to accelerate solutions that address the growing disparities in patients' access to HIV care and health outcomes, and focus on communities that are most affected," said Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding, executive vice president, and chief patient officer at Merck. "Through HIV Care Connect, we are pleased to partner with Care Resource and help catalyze collaboration among organizations across the southeastern United States and improve care coordination among people most affected by HIV."
Care Resource joins selected organizations in communities across the Southeast as program grantees of HIV Care Connect. The other two program grantees are Medical Advocacy and Outreach (Montgomery, AL), and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS). The University of Alabama at Birmingham will serve as the National Program Office for HIV Care Connect. In this capacity, it will support the program efforts of the grantee organizations and provide leadership in building a public-private partnership to reduce disparities in HIV care.
About Care Resource:
Care Resource is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with four locations in Midtown Miami, Little Havana, Miami Beach, and Fort Lauderdale. The health center provides comprehensive health and support services to address the full health care needs of South Florida's pediatric, adolescent and adult populations.
About the Merck Foundation
The Merck Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company, the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck's chief source of funding support to qualified non-profit charitable organizations. Since its inception, the Merck Foundation has contributed more than $921 million to support important initiatives that address societal needs and are consistent with Merck's overall mission of inventing for life by bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. For more information, visit www.merckgiving.com.