On April 2, USAID India committed a sum of at least $20 million to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine for a period of five years ending April 1, 2024. Sunil Solomon, associate professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, is the chief of party of the award. The Elton John AIDS Foundation has committed an additional $2 million to expand the scope of this program.
The overarching objective of the program, titled “ACCELERATE,” is to assist the Government of India’s National AIDS Program in achieving HIV epidemic control. ACCELERATE will focus efforts on all vulnerable populations and people living with HIV in India with a particular focus on key populations. The program will encompass two types of activities.
First, ACCELERATE will provide technical assistance to the National AIDS Control Organization and State AIDS Control Societies in implementing and evaluating novel interventions across the HIV continuum of care. This includes everything from preventive strategies including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), HIV self-testing to strategies to improve initiation and retention in antiretroviral therapy (ART) including decentralized models of ART delivery and strategies to support retention in poorly performing ART centers. Additional efforts will be tailored to specific populations including transgendered individuals and people who inject drugs.
Second, the program will support direct service delivery in the ten PEPFAR cluster districts across the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram. This will entail implementation of evidence-based HIV prevention and treatment strategies identified at national-level technical meetings including the evaluation of feasibility and cost-effectiveness of these strategies.
ACCELERATE will also deliver medical and social support services to orphans of people living with HIV and high-risk HIV-infected and vulnerable children. Sunil and his colleagues from Johns Hopkins University have been conducting HIV-related NIH-funded research in India since the late 1990s – this award provides them with a unique opportunity to translate their research findings and incorporate their strategies into the national HIV program in India with the ultimate goal of ending the HIV epidemic in India.