AIDS United awards $350,000 to support leadership development for people living with HIV

WASHINGTON — AIDS United has awarded ten general operating support grants totaling $350,000 to community-based organizations to help end HIV stigma and discrimination while building leadership among people living with HIV.

AIDS United’s People Organizing Positively initiative, with generous support from Gilead Sciences, taps a new generation of leaders living with HIV to help end the HIV epidemic in the United States.

“Amid the ongoing hardships, trauma and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with HIV have shown resilience and strength,” said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United. “This cohort of the People Organizing Positively initiative puts people living with HIV first every day, with creativity to respond to the unique challenges of this unprecedented moment caused by COVID-19.”

The leadership of people living with HIV continues to be essential to ensuring that our national response is not only informed by, but led by, and relevant to the needs of those it affects. The initiative advances the position that people living with HIV should remain at the head of this movement and the fact that many continue to do so in the face of numerous challenges.

From creating a food pantry to implementing scholarships for students living with HIV, the 10 new grantees are working to harness the power and resiliency that already exists in their communities to make a clear difference in the lives of people living with HIV everywhere.

The new awards are the latest of six, one-year grant cycles this year made to organizations across the United States as general operating support funds to organizations embodying these principles. These projects have adapted to continue to reach and support people living with HIV, while meeting the challenges caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“For years, we have partnered with AIDS United to better support grassroots organizations working to improve the health outcomes for PLWH. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has challenged many organizations to adapt the way they work to ensure continuity of vital services,” said Darwin Thompson, Gilead Sciences associate director of public affairs. “Gilead Sciences is proud to support AIDS United’s People Organizing Positively project which will provide critical general operating support for these organizations during such challenging times.”

Meet our 2021 grantees:

In February 2020, AIDS United was poised to release our People Organizing Positively RFP, but due to the rapid emergence of COVID-19 in the United States, we paused to reassess.

“Our constituents and potential applicants were shifting service delivery and adapting by the minute to meet their communities’ needs,” said Julio J. Fonseca, AIDS United senior program manager. “A traditional RFP submission and release would have been a heavy burden. AIDS United quickly developed a needs assessment survey for broad distribution in April 2020. A portion of the survey design was to inform our grant-making response. Based on survey responses and with permission from our funding partner, AIDS United designed a process for accepting low-barrier applications providing general operating support grants to organizations in communities doing work rooted in the principles of the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS.”

To date, the initiative, with technical assistance support from the US People Living with HIV Caucus, has awarded 55 grants to 37 organizations that collectively reached more than 300,000 people living with HIV. By developing leaders across the country, the POP initiative aims to shape our movement well after the initial grant period is over.