The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced that the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day will be “Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic: Resilience and Impact.”
SAMHSA is one of several U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies working to reduce new HIV infections, improve HIV-related health outcomes, and reduce HIV-related health disparities. To accomplish this, the agencies aim to increase the rate of testing, increase referrals to treatment for HIV positive individuals and people with pre-exposure prophylaxis, and support HIV treatment for people who test HIV-positive.
“In 2020, our mission was complicated by COVID-19, as SAMHSA’s grantees have navigated the intersection between the COVID-19, opioid, and HIV/AIDS pandemics,” the agency said. “But SAMHSA’s grantees and partner organizations have risen to the challenge, and developed innovative ways to deliver substance use disorder, mental disorder, and HIV testing and referrals in a largely virtual space…. SAMHSA grantees have been able to leverage alternative testing strategies, such as HIV self-testing, which allows individuals to perform their HIV tests in their own homes.”
People suffering from substance use disorders and mental illness have an increased risk of HIV because they participate in high-risk behaviors, including injection drug use.
Community mental health centers and SAMHSA’s grantees and partner organizations provide prevention services, treatment for people who test positive, and provide HIV testing.