The Merck Foundation has launched HIV Care Connect, a $7 million, five-year initiative 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.
Executive vice president and chief patient officer at Merck, Dr. Julie Louise Gerberding said, “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. Through HIV Care Connect, the Merck Foundation is helping to catalyze collaboration among organizations across the southeastern United States and improve care coordination among people most affected by HIV.”
While new cases of HIV are on the decline in the U.S., HIV continues to disproportionately affect certain populations and geographic regions of the country. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over half of all people newly diagnosed with HIV live in the U.S. South, with approximately three quarters of them identifying as people of color.
To help improve the delivery of HIV care and address persistent health disparities, HIV Care Connect will support community-based programs that promote linkage to and long-term engagement in HIV care as well as foster multisectoral approaches to address the many factors outside the health system that affect access to high-quality care.