Health officials and leading researchers in North Carolina and South Carolina have created a new collaborative effort to end the HIV epidemic in both states.
Carolinas United to End HIV (CUE-HIV) is a partnership among the State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, the State of South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Mecklenburg County Health Department, UNC Charlotte, the University of South Carolina (Columbia), the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston) and UNC Chapel Hill Center for AIDS Research (UNC CFAR).
CUE-HIV will specifically work to reduce the numbers of incident HIV infections in the Carolinas by 75 percent within five years and 90 percent within 10 years. This is in line with the reduction the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed through a new initiative to address the ongoing HIV public health crisis.
In a JAMA Network editorial, leading infectious diseases officials said such an ambitious initiative will “leverage critical scientific advances in HIV prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care by coordinating the highly successful programs, resources and infrastructure of the CDC, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS).
The initial phase, coordinated by the HHS Department’s Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, will focus on geographic and demographic hotspots in 19 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, where the majority of the new HIV cases are reported, as well as in seven states with a disproportionate occurrence of HIV in rural areas.”
Mecklenburg County in North Carolina and all counties in South Carolina fall into these categories.
The CUE-HIV collaborative resulted from the knowledge that HIV does not stop at state borders, especially in the era of social media and online dating. This cohesive approach is expected to help identify and target cross-state networks particularly in rural areas where stigma is a driving impetus to find partners away from home in larger cities and counties.