Chicago Department of Public Health ( CDPH ), on June 7, announced that it had received a $3 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), funds from which will be directed towards local agencies for HIV prevention and treatment efforts for MSM ( men who have sex with men ) and transgender persons of color.
The funds will support agencies implementing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis ( PrEP ) programs as well as "Data to Care" programs that use HIV surveillance data to identify individuals with HIV in order to connect them with treatment, according to a statement.
"Eliminating HIV is a top priority for Chicago, and we continue to make progress in our fight against the disease with our coordinated, comprehensive network of community providers that offer high-quality services to residents living with HIV," said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita. "We know that the PrEP and Data to Care models work, and we are grateful to the CDC for expanding our reach to provide at-risk individuals with the care and resources they need."
Funds will go to six local agencies to deliver PrEP-related services on the South, West and Southwest Sides. Those agencies include Howard Brown Health, Heartland Human Care Services, CORE Foundation, University of Chicago, Provident Hospital and Esperanza Health Center.
"Increasing access to PrEP, especially in traditionally underserved areas, is crucial to stopping HIV," said John Schneider, infectious disease specialist and network epidemiologist in the departments of medicine and health studies at University of Chicago Medicine. "Ultimately, we hope that this program empowers patients, [and] gives them a voice and an opportunity to have important discussions with their providers and loved ones."
The CORE Center and University of Chicago will implement the Data to Care program. "Reengagement to care is an integral part of stopping the spread of HIV and making sure people live long, healthy lives," said Dave Kern, deputy commissioner in the HIV/STI Bureau at CDPH. "With the support of CDC and our partners we can help people navigate the services they need to care for themselves."
Northwestern University will evaluate the implementation of the programs, according to the statement. The Center for Data Science and Public Policy at the University of Chicago will use data from these programs and predictive analytics to help CDPH anticipate potential challenges and barriers to care among those most at risk for HIV.