The state of Indiana just got a massive boost in the battle against HIV and AIDS. The State Department of Health received an enormous grant that aims to help HIV-positive patients in the state.
The growing number of newly diagnosed HIV cases and the opioid epidemic’s toll on Indiana helped the state land the competitive Ryan White Supplemental Award, worth $26 million – a record-breaking amount for a state health program, Fox 59 reports.
ISDH HIV Services Program Manager, Mark Schwering , said,
One the opioid epidemic in Scott county the HIV outbreak we had several years ago. We’ve managed that very well we showed that we had the experience to do that kind of stuff.
The team at the ISDH HIV program wrote a proposal to indicate how they would use the money should they get the funding, resulting in the largest award for HIV services in Indiana history. Schwering said, “It has to be used for HIV positive patients. A big chunk of it is going to be used for substance abuse disorders in HIV positive patients. We’ll use a lot of it for potentially housing, treatment, food in some cases, upgrade our case management system.”
Non-profit organizations, such as the Damien Center, believe that the money can go a long way towards drastically cutting down on new HIV cases. Jeremy Turner, Damien Center Director of Development and Communication, said, “When people living with HIV are connected with healthcare and stay retained in care they experience a reduction in viral load and when we lower our community’s viral load that means HIV is harder to transmit to other people.”
In 2016 alone, there were more than 12,000 people in Indiana living with HIV, with some 500 newly diagnosed cases of HIV or AIDS. Places like the Damien Center need all the help they can get. Turner said, “We have the tools now and ending aids is possible.”
The main focus of the state program will be on the areas with the most number of HIV-positive patients, such as Allen, Scott and Marion counties.