For the fifth consecutive year, Fulton County’s Ryan White program has received an increase in funding. The Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a funding increase to the County’s HIV programming and services agency. The 2018 grant award of $26,350,000 represents a 3 percent or approximately $800,000 increase over the 2017 award. The continuing growth in funding continues a trend of increases over the past five years with the 2018 award being 15 percent greater than the 2014 funding.
The funds will be used to pay for a variety of core medical services such as primary care, rapid entry clinics, oral health, mental health and substance abuse services. Additionally, essential support services that help people get in care and stay in care such as transportation, meals, and access to benefits are covered by the fund. Eighteen agencies that serve more than 16,000 people a year benefit from the annual grant award. The program received initial partial funding in March with the remainder received at the end of May.
“I commend Ryan White Director Jeff Cheek and his team for their consistently excellent stewardship of the federal funds received for continued implementation of the Ryan White program in Fulton County. Their efficient and effective management of the funding and delivery of services have been the catalysts behind the 5-year trend of increased funding awards. The appropriate usage of the dollars allocated for eligible communities helps us in our mission to provide adequate care for individuals and families who need our services to maintain their health,” said District 4 Fulton County Commissioner Natalie Hall. Commissioner Hall is the executive sponsor of the strategic priority area All People Are Healthy.
“The Board of Commissioners is committed to ending the HIV epidemic and serving people who are living with HIV; however, this could not be done without our community partners and our dedicated employees,” added County Manager Dick Anderson.
Jeff Cheek, Director of the Fulton County Ryan White Program was pleased yet moderated in his reaction to the funding increase, “While I am excited that we have received additional funding, this is tempered by the sobering reality that while HIV cases are decreasing in most parts of the country, the numbers are increasing in the South. In Metropolitan Atlanta, people of color — particularly African American men who have sex with men — continue to bear the brunt of the disease.”
The Atlanta Ryan White program seeks to improve the availability and quality of care for low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals and families affected by HIV in the 20-County Atlanta Eligible Metropolitan Area.
Ryan White funds are also used to address service needs and gaps as the implementation of the Affordable Care Act continues. Funds also support the quality management program and Metropolitan Atlanta HIV Health Services Planning Council. The Council, which is made up of persons living with HIV provides comprehensive planning activities, establishes service priorities and allocates funds in the designated eligible communities.