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IHS Announces Awards for the Secretary's Minority AIDS Initiative Fund

by Rick Haverkate, National HIV/AIDS Program Manager, Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service (IHS) recently announced the distribution of fiscal year 2016 Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Funds (SMAIF) totaling more than $3.6 million to several Tribal, Urban, and IHS facilities. These competitive funds, awarded to the IHS from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, will fund activities that complement existing efforts to address HIV/AIDS in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

SMAIF programming supports the four critical focus areas of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: 1) widespread HIV testing and linkage to care; 2) comprehensive care for people living with HIV; 3) universal viral suppression; and 4) full access to Pre-Exposure Prophylactic (PrEP) services. In FY 2016, there were 15 Tribal, Urban and IHS programs funded through IHS’s SMAIF award providing technical assistance, training, clinical support, increased screening ability and additional HIV/STD education.

Congress established the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund in 1999 as part of the Minority AIDS Initiative in response to growing concern about the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS on racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. SMAIF provides more than $50 million each year to support a wide range of activities that are designed to reduce new HIV infections, improve HIV-related health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities in racial and ethnic minority communities.

These competitive awards build on encouragement from community stakeholders to align activities supported by the Fund with the goals and priorities of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy while also remaining consistent with the purpose and spirit of the Minority AIDS Initiative, from which the fund is derived.

IHS is responsible for providing federal health care services to an estimated 2.2 million American Indian and Alaska Native patients. With support from SMAIF, IHS published a set of best practices for HIV screening that led to nationwide implementation of HIV screening recommendations for adults and adolescents at IHS facilities. Best practices include: clinical reminders in the electronic health record; having a local HIV testing policy in place; and standing protocols to allow nurses to order HIV tests. Some of the highest performing IHS facilities have achieved HIV screening levels at more than 70 percent for the eligible population.

Read more information on the IHS Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, National HIV/AIDS program.

Rick Haverkate is the deputy director of the IHS Office of Clinical and Preventive Services and a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. He is the National HIV/AIDS Program Manager for IHS and was previously with the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Rick Haverkate, National HIV/AIDS Program Manager, Indian Health Service