Merck Company Foundation Announces HIV Care Collaborative with Atlanta, Houston and Philadelphia Health Departments


July 19, 2012 7:08 am ET

Initiative Is Designed to Improve Access to Care in Support of U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy

The Merck Company Foundation announces the launch of a three-year, $3
million initiative that will support the health departments in Atlanta,
Houston and Philadelphia to connect more people living with HIV in these
high-burden communities to the care they need to stay healthy. The
initiative will be launched with program partners on Sunday, July 22,
2012 at the start of the XIX International AIDS Conference.

The HIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the United
aligns with President Obama’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy’s
goals which include entering and retaining more patients in care and is
designed to support existing programs that have the greatest potential
to reduce new HIV infections. According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, 1.2 million people in the United States are
living with HIV infection, with 50,000 new infections each year. A third
of Americans with known HIV infections are not receiving health care and
20 to 40 percent of patients fail to establish care within six months of
receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis.

“Too many people living with HIV/AIDS are not getting the health care
they need to stay healthy and contribute to healthy communities,” said
Geralyn S. Ritter, senior vice president, Global Public Policy &
Corporate Responsibility, Merck & Co., Inc. and president, The Merck
Company Foundation. “Merck has a long-standing commitment to expanding
access to health care and helping respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and
the HIV Care Collaborative reinforces this commitment here in the
United States.”

Each of the selected health departments will receive up to $1 million
over three years, to enhance existing efforts and foster other
innovative approaches to better serve people living with HIV/AIDS and
prevent its further spread. The communities will address local
provider-based and health system challenges and will regularly come
together as a group to discuss their work, promising practices, and the
common problems and unique challenges they face.

The Collaborative, with support from The George Washington University’s
School of Public Health and Health Services, will build on what’s
currently underway in each city:

Atlanta/Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness: Bridging
the Gap
will focus on HIV-positive clients referred to and
enrolled in the county’s HIV Primary Care Clinic by implementing a
community-based Linkage Coordinator and referral program.

Houston Department of Health and Human Services: Expanded
Linkage to Care Initiative (ELCI)
will implement a multi-sector
effort bringing together healthcare providers, community groups, and
researchers to launch a community-wide System Navigator and Data
Matching Program to identify all those living with HIV who have fallen
out of care and re-engage them. The City of Philadelphia Department
of Public Health: Engaging HIV+ Patients in Care in Philadelphia
will use System Navigators to help guide HIV patients
through the local health care system to improve regular care, viral
suppression, and management of HIV-related co-morbidities and other
chronic diseases.

“On the eve of the AIDS 2012 conference, we are reminded there is still
much left to be done to reduce the suffering and loss of life caused by
HIV/AIDS,” said Shannon Hader, MD, MPH, vice president and director,
Center for Health Systems and Solutions, Futures Group. “The new HIV
Care Collaborative
will provide added resources to support the
innovation and commitments of local communities to improve timely access
to care and strengthen capacity and achieve better outcomes for people
living with HIV in Atlanta, Houston and Philadelphia.”

Merck’s Commitment to Communities Impacted by HIV

For more than 25 years, Merck has been committed to reducing healthcare
disparities and improving access to HIV treatment and care in the United
States. As part of this commitment, Merck engages in public-private
partnerships to reduce the impact of HIV on those most in need and most
at risk. Merck collaborates with leading AIDS service organizations to
develop solutions that strengthen access to treatment, care and support
for disproportionately impacted communities. For more information about
Merck’s commitment to reducing health disparities in HIV, visit

About The Merck Company Foundation

The Merck Company Foundation is a U.S.-based, private charitable
foundation. Established in 1957 by Merck, a global healthcare leader,
the Foundation is funded entirely by the company and is Merck’s chief
source of funding support to qualified non-profit, charitable
organizations. Since its inception, The Merck Company Foundation has
contributed more than $700 million to support important initiatives that
address societal needs and are consistent with Merck’s overall mission
to help the world be well. For more information, visit

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