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Black AIDS Institute, in Partnership with Merck, Launches Dynamic National HIV/AIDS Treatment and Care Advocacy Network

Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN) Focuses on Improving Care for Thousands of Black Americans in the U.S.

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. and LOS ANGELES, Calif., Aug. 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Black AIDS Institute (The Institute), with support from Merck, announced the launch of the Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN). BTAN, the first collaborative Network of its kind, will train and mobilize a team of treatment advocates with a mission to link Black Americans with HIV into care and treatment; strengthen local and national leadership; raise HIV science and treatment literacy in Black communities; and advocate for policy change and research priorities.

Black Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, and yet they are the largest group impacted by HIV/AIDS at 51 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also remain those least in care. Studies show that among individuals with HIV/AIDS, Blacks are 59 percent less likely than Whites to be receiving HIV treatment.

"We are at an important juncture in the trajectory of the AIDS epidemic in Black communities. Improving HIV literacy, increasing the number of trained Black treatment educators, and expanding the level of treatment advocacy in Black communities is critical to our efforts to end the AIDS epidemic in Black communities," said Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. "The Institute is pleased to partner with Merck, people living with HIV/AIDS, and community organizations to launch BTAN. Their support, leadership, and dedication will help to lay the foundation for a new era in Black HIV/AIDS treatment education and advocacy."

The National Network will connect individuals from across the country and, for the first time, unify Black HIV/AIDS advocacy efforts under an umbrella initiative focused on reducing disparities and improving care for the Black American HIV community. The Network will allow advocates to learn together – and from each other – via regular, national web-based trainings, regional programs around the U.S., and the Network website, which will serve as a portal to connect members and house resources to inform, guide and support efforts in the field.

"We are proud to support BTAN and partner with the Black AIDS Institute, AIDS service organizations (ASOs) and advocates across the country to launch this important initiative," said Patrick Bergstedt, senior vice president and general manager, Merck Infectious Disease Franchise. "Merck is committed to helping reduce healthcare disparities and improve access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment for Black Americans through collaborative efforts such as BTAN. This dynamic Network has the potential to positively impact the lives of thousands of Black Americans in the U.S. affected by HIV/AIDS."

Across the board, treatment advances have helped to result in declines of more than 70 percent in the national rate of AIDS deaths, but Black Americans are not benefiting equally from the breakthroughs. Very few community-based treatment advocacy initiatives are rooted in agencies focused on Black communities. BTAN aims to mobilize existing community leaders with appropriate training to create the backbone of a new era in Black American HIV/AIDS advocacy.

As its first major initiative, BTAN will partner with Merck & Co., Inc. and local ASOs in a small number of high prevalence, resource-limited "pilot" communities across the country to hold intensive science and advocacy trainings to address local critical needs. The pilot launch cities for 2010 are Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Houston, Texas; and Jackson, Mississippi. A core group of advocates from these cities will be key to growing the Network and sustaining its long-term impact.

The pilot partners will be introduced at a BTAN program at September's U.S. Conference on AIDS (USCA) in Orlando, Florida.

Individuals interested in more information about the Black Treatment Advocates Network, including how to become involved, should contact the Black AIDS Institute at 213.353.3610 ext. 120.

About the Black AIDS Institute

Founded in 1999, The Black AIDS Institute (The Institute), a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, is the only national HIV/AIDS Think Tank in the United States focused exclusively on Black people. The Institute's mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing traditional Black leaders, institutions and individuals in efforts to confront HIV/AIDS. The Institute offers training and capacity building, disseminates information, interprets and recommends private and public sector HIV policies, and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically Black point of view.

About Merck

Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com

Merck Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company's plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck's management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation; the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully; disruption from the merger making it more difficult to maintain business and operational relationships; Merck's ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck's patents and other protections for innovative products; the risk of new and changing regulation and health policies in the U.S. and internationally and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck's 2009 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company's other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC's Internet site (www.sec.gov).


SOURCE Black AIDS Institute

 

Posted: August 2010


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