The Health Resources and Services Administration, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has named Whitman-Walker Health as one of five D.C. health centers to receive a total of $1.4 million in grants to carry out HIV prevention programs.
An HHS statement says the programs are funded under the Trump administration’s Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative that calls for reducing the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. by 90 percent by 2030.
The grant to Whitman-Walker, which totals $266,321, will be used to enhance HIV prevention and “linkage services” for four priority populations – LGBTQ youth, young people, black and African American people and Latinx people, according to Meghan Davies, Whitman-Walker’s Chief Program Officer.
“We’re going to work on that by strengthening and expanding our current HIV services by augmenting our PrEP work,” Davies said. “So we have a PrEP navigator. We have PrEP advocates. We have PrEP specialists. And with the augmenting of the PrEP we’re going to have that increased capacity to diagnose, treat, prevent, and then respond to HIV negative and or positive individuals in these targeted populations,” she said.
Among other things, Davies said the program includes same-day anti-retroviral treatment or “treatment on demand” for people who test HIV positive with the goal of ensuring immediate control of a person’s viral load to the point of “undetectable,” which means they cannot transmit the virus to someone else.
“We’re thrilled obviously to get this funding,” said Davies. “It’s so important. We’ve been doing HIV work since HIV existed,” she said. “And so it’s wonderful to have the support of the Ending the HIV Epidemic to be able to advance or HIV work.”