OK Health Department receives additional CDC funding to end the HIV epidemic

The Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recently received an additional $2.15 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support ending the HIV epidemic in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is one of seven states identified as having a substantial rural burden of HIV. Funding was distributed through the federal initiative Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America. The OSDH will use the funds to support treatment, prevention, and response strategies, and to reduce local barriers to HIV prevention and care.

Terrainia Harris, interim director of the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service, said the funding will be used to purchase rapid HIV testing kits for Oklahoma and Tulsa county jails to screen high-risk detainees, and for a new self-testing program to be developed for the general public.

“This funding will also support contracts with three outreach case managers who identify at-risk clients, provide harm reduction education, testing, and linking clients to proper medical care,” said Harris. “There are also plans to contract with five mental health therapists to assist new and previously diagnosed clients in addressing mental health and substance abuse concerns.”

“OSDH welcomes this opportunity to work in tandem with our public health and community partners while making strides toward ending the HIV epidemic in Oklahoma,” said Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye, M.D. “The educational and transportation components will allow us to work more effectively to reach those in need of medical care and services.”

The grant funding will also be used for the following:

  • Purchase tablets for case management agencies to be used by clients to view prevention and health education messages, current resources available in their area, and to complete forms and surveys to assess their current needs.
  • Gap analysis and needs assessment to identify and assist with quality improvement needs.
  • Transportation through ride-sharing companies to provide rides to clients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to attend social service appointments, mental health counseling, support groups, and grocery stores/food pantries.
  • Supplies to assist clients with barriers related to medical appointments, social service appointments, and nutrition.
  • Food pantries to be implemented in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Lawton, and Ardmore to provide service to persons diagnosed with HIV/AIDS or pregnant women with syphilis.
  • Oklahoma State University-Project ECHO will be supplemented to create and present a curriculum for medical providers across the state. Extension for Community Health Care Outcomes (ECHO) is a collaborative model of medical education and care management that empowers clinicians in rural and underserved communities to provide specialty care to more people where they live.

The CDC awarded a total of $109 million in funding to state and local health departments to reach 50 local areas that account for most new HIV infections and seven states with a substantial rural burden of HIV. For more information from the CDC, click here. For more information about the OSDH Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Service, visit shhr.health.ok.gov .

The Gayly. 8/24/2020 @ 12:18 p.m. CST.