More than 80 public health professionals and community members from New Orleans and surrounding parishes, Baton Rouge, and the State of Louisiana gathered with members of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy to share plans, challenges, and successes in their work to end the HIV epidemic. Staff with the New Orleans Health Department and its Ryan White Services and Resources division presented details of the recently launched HIV Care program in a listening session with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Harold Phillips and staff members; the session was held at the University Medical Center.
The new HIV Care program, Centralized Linkage, provides for people living with HIV to call or text (504) 884-3307 seven days a week to access free or low-cost HIV primary care appointments and support services, regardless of whether they have insurance. “The Centralized Linkage program is another strong example that we are using all tools available to provide our citizens the best HIV care and support,” said Vatsana Chanthala, director of Ryan White Services and Resources. “We are grateful for the support of the White House, federal partners, and local stakeholders for the funding and collaboration that allows us to provide these services.”
The Centralized Linkage program, one of the components of the Bounce to Zero campaign to end the HIV epidemic, went live earlier this year; the program features a call or text option staffed by service coordinators who connect persons with HIV with a comprehensive suite of resources to manage an HIV diagnosis including primary care appointments and assistance with transportation, medication, housing, and insurance.
A Centralized Linkage Coordinator works with individuals to connect them to HIV care providers. The phone line is available to both clients and providers. The “Bounce to Zero” campaign is the local implementation of the national effort of Ending the HIV Epidemic by reducing the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 95% by 2030. It is coordinated by Ryan White Services and Resources of the New Orleans Health Department.
The New Orleans metro area has the highest number of HIV cases in Louisiana and was identified as one of 57 priority jurisdictions in the federal effort of ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2030. According to the Louisiana Department of Health, there are 8,642 persons living with HIV in the New Orleans metro area, which represents 38% of the State’s HIV cases. The eight parishes benefiting from the Bounce to Zero campaign have the highest cases of persons living with HIV in Louisiana. Nationwide, approximately 1.2 million people are living with HIV. An estimated 38,000 Americans are newly diagnosed each year. While the overall number of new inflections has dropped by 73% between 1984 and 2019, progress to further reduce those numbers has stalled. Without intervention, nearly 400,000 more Americans will be newly diagnosed over 10 years, despite the availability of tools to prevent transmissions.