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Where is the money coming from?; Who is paying for the harm reduction program?

Continuing the series on harm reduction programs, their importance and statistics around the program, a question that is being raised is who is funding these programs?

Part of the funding for these programs comes from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part B (RWHAP) funds that go to support the medical care and supportive services of people living with HIV (PWH). Those funds go to the Commonwealth of Kentucky, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Department for Public Health.

The RWHAP funds a program called the Kentucky AIDS Drug Assistance Program (KADAP), which provides medications and medication assistance to PWH throughout the state.

The University of Kentucky serves as the contract pharmacy for the KADAP program and supplies medications to enrolled people with HIV across the Commonwealth. Income generated from insurance payments for the KADAP approved medications is identified as RWHAP program income.

The University of Kentucky and the Department of Public Health have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, collectively called the Kentucky Income Reinvestment Program (KIRP), where the two work cooperatively to reinvest in this programs income dollars to help improve health care delivery to citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky through disease education, prevention, treatment and the provision of professional services intended to benefit people with HIV.

A collaborative program aimed at preventing new HIV infections in Kentucky as well as expanding the education was introduced in 2018 following 352 new HIV cases being diagnosed in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Department of Public Health, in January 2018 a cluster investigation was initiated in Northern Kentucky because there had been a shift in those identified risk factors to injection drug use in those newly diagnosed.

“This collaborative partnership will strengthen our capabilities to combat the spread of HIV in the region,” said Dr. Jeff Howard in a March 2019 interview with the University of Kentucky. “With the increasing number of HIV cases linked to injection drug use, it is imperative we enhance services, education and outreach to vulnerable populations and prevent further spread of infectious disease.”

Howard continues that in addition to seeking to prevent new HIV cases, the program also will educate existing health care providers and health professions students in training to address substance use disorders and mental health issues that hinder effective HIV and medical care.

Data collected by DPH, in Northern Kentucky, HIV cases with injection drug use as a risk factor increased from two reported cases in 2014 to 29 cases in 2018.

The Ryan White HIV/Aids Program was first enacted in 1990 and is the largest federal program designed specifically for people with HIV, serving over half of all those diagnosed. The program is the third largest source of federal funding for HIV care in the United States following Medicare and Medicaid.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program has remained a critical component of the nation’s response to HIV.

In conclusion to this series, Middlesboro News will look at why this program is needed in Bell County and look at statistics over the years. There will also be in conclusion interviews with Greg Corby Lee who is the Strategist with the Harm Reduction Initiative with the University of Kentucky and Jana Collins the Project Director for KADAP Income Reinvestment Program.

For further information on the harm reduction program in Bell County, you can call 606-248-2862 ext. 27 or visit the Bell County Health Department in Middlesboro.