Mobilizing People Living with HIV to Fight Stigma

The AIDS United Positive Organizing Project Supports 17 Organizations to Mobilize Grassroots Efforts

Through the AIDS United Positive Organizing Project, with funding from Gilead Sciences, the concept of meaningful engagement of people living with HIV/AIDS is being revitalized. Through the initiative, 17 community-based organizations throughout the country will tackle HIV-related stigma and discrimination in their communities by advancing grassroots organizing among people living with HIV.

Biomedical advancements in HIV treatment and prevention are changing the way the epidemic is approached. What was once an almost universally fatal disease can now be managed as a chronic medical condition with access to and support for comprehensive care and treatment. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication HIV-negative individuals can take to prevent HIV infection, is becoming more widely understood as a powerful addition to the prevention arsenal. This progress would not have been possible without fierce advocacy and mobilization of people living with HIV. As medical science advanced, support for advocates who demanded this progress has waned. Unfortunately, the ability to engage and remain in care is too often hindered by fear, stigma and discrimination.

“Empowering people living with HIV and creating local coalitions to make change in their communities is just as critical now as it was 10, 20 or 30 years ago,” said AIDS United Interim President & CEO Jesse Milan, Jr.

From leading a national media campaign encouraging Native Americans to discuss what HIV means among their communities, addressing the unique needs of people aging with HIV in Florida, to a statewide campaign led by women tackling HIV criminalization laws in South Carolina – the 17 grantee organizations are harnessing the power and resiliency inherent in their communities to make a clear difference in the lives of people living with HIV across the nation.

“At Gilead, we are inspired by the incredibly impactful work being done by Positive Organizing Project grantees,” said Gregg Alton, executive vice president, Commercial and Access Operations ALA, Corporate and Medical Affairs at Gilead Sciences. “Fostering opportunities to create and expand networks of people living with HIV is a critical approach to reducing HIV-related stigma that keeps far too many people from seeking the care and supportive services necessary to be healthy with HIV. We are proud to support this work.”

To date, the initiative, led by AIDS United with support from the U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus, has funded 29 grantees over three years. Taken together, the grantees have created ongoing networks and directly reached more than 3,500 people living with HIV from 19 states.

“Great things have been accomplished when people living with HIV have come together as advocates and leaders. The Positive Organizing Project is channeling our movement’s powerful legacy of leadership and grassroots mobilization to tackle a new generation of problems,” said Milan.

The 2016-2017 Positive Organizing Project grantees include:

  • AIDS Alabama – Birmingham, AL
  • Brothers United – Indianapolis, IN
  • Equality Foundation of Georgia – Atlanta, GA
  • Harlem United Community AIDS Center, Inc. – New York, NY
  • International Community of Women Living with HIV – North America – Summit, NJ
  • Life Foundation – Honolulu, HI
  • Louisiana Public Health Institute – New Orleans, LA
  • National Native American AIDS Prevention Center – Denver, CO
  • New Mexico Community AIDS Partnership – Santa Fe, NM
  • Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services – Columbia, SC
  • Positive Women’s Network – SC – South Carolina
  • Prevention Access Campaign – Brooklyn, NY
  • Special Service for Groups – Los Angeles, CA
  • SunServe – Wilton Manors, FL
  • The Women’s Collective – Washington, DC
  • Thrive Tribe Foundation – Los Angeles, CA
  • UNIFIED – HIV Health and Beyond – Detroit, MI