The Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) will use a new $1 million grant to find HIV-infected people who have stopped receiving health care and help link them to the medical treatment they need to stay healthy. The three-year grant from the Merck Company Foundation will allow HDHHS to launch the Expanded Linkage to Care Initiative, an effort gathering health care providers, community groups and researches to develop community-wide coordination and data-matching programs that facilitate access to care.
“The Expanded Linkage to Care Initiative will improve the health of people living with HIV and reduce new infections in the Houston and Harris County area,” said Marlene McNeese-Ward, HDHHS’ bureau chief of HIV/STD and Viral Hepatitis Prevention.
HDHHS accepted the grant from Merck on Sunday, July 22nd at the start of the XIX International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. The initiative will focus on underserved populations, including Blacks, the homeless and injection drug users.
Fifty-four percent of the 20,329 people diagnosed with HIV in Houston and Harris County are Black. Approximately 8.5 % of people with HIV or AIDS in the Houston area are homeless, but only 3% to 4% receive medical care.