BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) announced that Baltimore City was awarded more than $20 million in grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to support efforts to reduce HIV infection among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender populations.

The two grants awarded to BCHD are a part of $185 million in funding distributed by the CDC to respond to HIV among MSM and transgender men and women.

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While new HIV infections are declining across the city–and nationwide–new infections are increasing among MSM and transgender persons in Baltimore. African American populations are particularity at-risk.

Eighty-four percent of those living with HIV in Baltimore are African American.

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“This is not just a health issue, but one of social justice,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Leana Wen. “Thanks to this generous funding, we will be able to help African American MSM and transgender individuals who are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, both here in Baltimore and across the country.”

Through the first grant, BCHD, in collaboration with community partners, proposes to implement and evaluate a program to reduce the acquisition of HIV.

With funding provided by the second grant, BCHD plans to improve engagement in HIV medical care by developing a collaborative between BCHD, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) and local health departments to provide a comprehensive model that brings together experienced HIV clinicians, counselors and other behavioral health and social service providers into a “Care Collective.”

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“We are so proud of what these grants will mean for Baltimore,” said Mayor Rawlings-Blake. “This very significant award will help reduce infections and improve engagement in HIV medical care for these underserved populations, while creating new jobs for local residents.”