Observed annually on December 1st since 1988, World AIDS Day gives us the opportunity to commemorate those we have lost due to AIDS-related illnesses. It also gives us the opportunity to honor the more than 38 million individuals living with HIV around the world. This year, we observe World AIDS Day in the context of our ongoing response to COVID-19 and monkeypox, which disproportionately impact many of the same communities most affected by HIV/AIDS. The U.S. government’s theme for World AIDS Day 2022— Putting Ourselves to the Test: Achieving Equity to End HIV—emphasizes accountability and action. At SAMHSA, we are committed to helping end the HIV epidemic in the United States by reaching those communities disproportionately affected by HIV.
SAMHSA’s mission is to lead public health and service delivery efforts that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and provide treatments and supports to foster recovery while ensuring equitable access and better outcomes. People with mental or substance use disorders (SUD) are at an increased risk of HIV. Substance use and mental health treatment providers like SAMHSA’s grant recipients and partner organizations serve on the front lines of the HIV epidemic as an important pathway to HIV testing, treatment for people who test positive, and prevention services to ensure that people who are HIV-negative stay negative.
In 2022, SAMHSA awarded $45.1 million in grants to meet the behavioral health needs of people who either are at risk for contracting or are living with HIV/AIDS. These grant programs include:
- Minority AIDS Initiative: Substance Use Disorder Treatment for Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations at High Risk for HIV/AIDS (MAI – High-Risk Populations), which works to increase engagement in care for racially and ethnically underrepresented individuals who have substance use disorders and/or co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders who also are at risk of contracting or who are living with HIV/AIDS and receive HIV/AIDS services or treatment: $30.4 million. Recipients of this grant program are listed here.
- Substance Abuse and HIV Prevention Navigator Program for Racial/Ethnic Minorities Cooperative Agreement (Prevention Navigator), which seeks to provide substance misuse and HIV prevention services to racial or ethnic minority males at risk for HIV/AIDS. The program places an emphasis on males who have sex with other males, including transgender individuals, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ+ who are not in stable housing and reside in communities with high incidence rates of HIV: $5.5 million. Recipients of this grant program are listed here.
- Minority AIDS Initiative – Service Integration, which provides resources to help reduce the co-occurring epidemics of HIV, hepatitis, and mental disorders through accessible, evidence-based, culturally appropriate mental and co-occurring disorder treatment that is integrated with HIV primary care and prevention services: $9.2 million. Recipients of this grant program are listed here.
In 2022, SAMHSA also funded the Harm Reduction Grant Program, which supports community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs, and other harm reduction services that are allowable under federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Harm reduction is a pillar of the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy, which involves working to lessen harms associated with drug use and related behaviors that increase the risk of infectious diseases – including HIV.
SAMHSA continues to prioritize decreasing HIV/AIDS transmission among people who have mental illnesses or SUDs and linking Americans who have HIV and co-occurring mental illness and/or SUD to appropriate care and treatment resources. SAMHSA’s grant programs that target the intersection between HIV, viral hepatitis, SUD, and mental illness are in alignment with the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) (PDF | 1.8 MB), reflect SAMHSA’s commitments laid out in our contribution to the NHAS Federal Implementation Plan (PDF | 707 KB), and are in alignment with the goals of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative, of which SAMHSA is a proud contributing agency.
SAMHSA is committed to centering equity within our HIV response by ensuring improved access to appropriate HIV testing and linkage to appropriate HIV treatment and prevention services, including non-traditional, community-based settings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 13-64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of their routine health care to know their status. People with certain risk factors, including many people served by SAMHSA grant programs, should get tested at least once a year. If individuals would like to access tailored information about their personal HIV risk and prevention strategies, they can use CDC’s HIV Risk Reduction Tool. If you or someone you know would like to be tested for HIV in person, visit the HIV Testing Sites & Care Services Locator. If you or someone you know would prefer to receive an HIV self-test, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention HIV Self-Testing page. Finally, if you, or someone you know, is seeking help for substance use or mental illness, SAMHSA’s Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator can connect individuals with treatment programs in their area.
On Worlds AIDS Day 2022, SAMHSA would like to thank our staff, our grantees, federal partners and the substance use disorder and mental health community in working toward our shared goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. Thank you for the work you do to save lives and improve the health of the people of America.