Words Followed By Actions

July 31, 2012
2:39 pm

The International AIDS Conference that took place last week in Washington, D.C. was a significant event in terms of nations and organizations renewing their commitment to combat the spread of the HIV virus, which has infected 1.2 million people in this nation alone.  After the speeches are long completed, though, what really matters are the actions to connect those who have HIV/AIDS with the healthcare they need in order to live active, productive lives.

In that light, the Merck Company Foundation deserves thanks for the launch of its new HIV Care Collaborative for Underserved Populations in the United States.  Starting in three cities, the new initiative shows great promise in reaching the one of every three Americans who have HIV and are not receiving essential medical care.

What’s sensible about the Merck approach is that it is building upon programs that are already active and working.  The Atlanta/Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, the Houston Department of Health and Human Services, and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health will each receive up to $1 million from the Merck Foundation over three years to support initiatives that are identifying local citizens living with HIV and helping them navigate their community healthcare systems.

As Merck Foundation president Geralyn S. Ritter put it, “Too many people living with HIV/AIDS are not getting the healthcare they need to stay healthy and contribute to healthy communities.”  In fact, as Merck pointed out in announcing the initiative, 20 to 40 percent of patients are failing to establish care immediately after receiving an HIV-positive diagnosis.  That’s why it’s so essential to fund the local outreach taking place in communities across the country.

Let’s hope that future AIDS conferences, thanks to this initiative and others like it, will feature reports on the improved healthcare being received by HIV/AIDS patients.

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