Foundation ups its commitment to challenging HIV criminalization laws, addressing the needs of Transgender individuals, and increasing access to prevention and treatment
NEW YORK- The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), a leader in the global effort to end AIDS, on January 27, announced a new series of grants totaling more than $5.4 million to support organizations addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in critical and innovative ways. This is one of the Foundation's largest grant cycles to date and brings EJAF's total grant investments for 2015 to over $9.8 million, a 40% increase over the Foundation's investments in 2014.
'With this final grant cycle of 2015, our Foundation makes its largest commitment to ending HIV/AIDS in the 24 years of our work,' said EJAF Chairman David Furnish. 'All of us at EJAF recognize that the latest scientific breakthroughs in preventing and treating HIV - including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and definitive proof that Treatment IS Prevention - have afforded us a unique opportunity to make real and lasting change in the course of the epidemic. We believe that today calls for big gestures and bold statements to transform the biomedical progress we've made into tangible differences in people's lives.'
In this grant cycle, the Foundation renewed 38 grants and funded 32 new organizations. These grants demonstrate EJAF's continued investment in health programming and activism for LGBT people, Black Americans, HIV-positive prisoners and parolees, sex workers, women, and young people. Among the grants being funded are:
o Over 25 grants to programs led by or specifically serving Transgender people. Because of stigma and discrimination, Transgender people face higher than average rates of poverty and unemployment and frequently do not have access to the health care they need. EJAF is therefore making a major investment in Transgender organizing for rights and health care as a strategy toward improving HIV-related health.
o Nine programs tackling the unsound and unjust laws that erroneously criminalize HIV-positive people for potentially exposing others to HIV, even when risks are minimal. If you have sex while HIV-positive, or even propose sex to someone, that's a crime according to laws in many states, passed in the HIV panics of the 1980s. These grants include four national organizations (Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, the Center for HIV Law and Policy, Desiree Alliance, and the Positive Women's Network), and five organizations working for state-level legal changes in Georgia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. EJAF believes many of the state laws criminalizing potential HIV transmission can and will be changed during the coming years, thereby preventing the unjust incarceration of innocent people and removing disincentives for people to know and disclose their HIV status.
o Seven grants for programs providing HIV testing and services for sex workers or engaging in activism to protect the health and civil rights of sex workers and advocate for changing outdated policing practices, including the confiscation of condoms and medications for HIV prevention.
o Several grants to expand the use of home-based HIV testing and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Home-based HIV testing offers people a way to test for HIV in a place and a time that is convenient to them. PrEP is the one-pill-a-day that prevents HIV so people can protect themselves against the virus. Both of these approaches have tremendous potential to help people learn their status and prevent HIV infection, especially in rural areas and under-served communities that face high risk of a resurgence in HIV due to factors like pervasive poverty and drug addiction.
o Three new grants for HIV-related activism in South Carolina, a Southern state with an out-of-control epidemic where EJAF deliberately sought to increase its presence in 2015.
o Two new grants focused on health services for Gay men and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico.
o Three grants to organizations specifically addressing the unique HIV prevention and treatment needs for women and girls.
'This year's grant application process yielded more innovative and creative ideas than ever before,' EJAF's Executive Director Scott Campbell added. 'We believe this is in part because of increasing momentum toward ending the AIDS epidemic. The incredible projects proposed by EJAF's 2015 grantees reinforce our conviction that an end to HIV/AIDS will happen in our lifetime. When faced with the leadership and boldness our grantees brought to us this year, the only thing to do is to say yes. At EJAF, we are fully committed to work tirelessly in the months and years ahead to raise the funds necessary to sustain this significant increase in our annual grant investments.'
In addition to the 70 grants announced in this grant cycle, EJAF awarded more than 50 grants earlier in 2015. EJAF has been recognized as one of the largest HIV funders in the Southern U.S., one of the leading HIV funders in the Caribbean, and one of the nation's largest funders of LGBT health programs and Black LGBT organizations.
At the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), we believe that AIDS can be beaten. We act on that belief by raising funds for evidence-based programs and policies, and also by speaking out with honesty and compassion about the realities of people's lives. Sir Elton John created EJAF over twenty years ago, first in the United States in 1992 and then in the United Kingdom in 1993. Through hard work and with the help of our network of kind and generous friends and supporters, the two foundations together have raised more than $349 million over the past two decades to combat stigma, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS. The U.S. foundation focuses its efforts on programs in the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean, while the U.K. foundation funds HIV-related work in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Join us in speaking out, taking action, and contributing to our efforts to achieve a world without AIDS.
For more information and for a complete list and descriptions of EJAF's 2015 grantees, please visit www.ejaf.org.
American Airlines is the official airline of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Courtesy of the Elton John AIDS Foundation
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