Nation’s Top HIV Funders Announce Historic Partnership, Game Changing Investment in U.S. South01 Nation’s Top HIV Funders Announce Historic Partnership, Game Changing Investment in U.S. South

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2017
Media Contact: Kyle Murphy, (202) 876-2820

Nation’s Top HIV Funders Announce Historic Partnership, Game Changing Investment in U.S. South

New Fund to provide $2.65 million in grants to accelerate progress toward ending HIV and reducing health disparities

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Gilead Sciences, Ford Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation, ViiV Healthcare, and Johnson & Johnson – leading funders of the domestic HIV response – launched a first-of-its-kind collaborative, The Southern HIV Impact Fund(The Fund) to stop the persistent and worsening impact of the epidemic on the region. The Fund is making an initial investment of $2.65 million in support of 37 organizations in nine states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. It has already mobilized an additional $150,000 in emergency support for people living with HIV in hurricane-impacted areas of the region, including Texas and Florida.

Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA) convened the collaborative to accelerate meaningful progress toward ending HIV and reducing health disparities in the South. AIDS United, the nation’s leading organization working to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. and with a long history of investing in the South, is managing the fund.

“America’s South is the epicenter of the national epidemic,” said John Barnes, FCAA’s Executive Director. “Forty (40) percent of all people living with HIV in the U.S. live in the South. Yet the region received just 18 percent of total HIV-related philanthropy in 2015. This translates to a per capita $59 per person living with HIV in the South, as compared to $116 per person allocated nationally. Without the necessary resources, we will not be able to control this epidemic.”

The collaborative will bring together leaders and organizations from heavily impacted communities in the nine states receiving funding, leveraging their unique knowledge of these communities’ needs along with their footprint and infrastructure on the ground to maximize the impact of the Fund’s grantmaking. Equivalent to nearly 12% of all private funding for HIV/AIDS directed to the region in 2015, this initial investment will support the creation of a robust pipeline of leaders working toward ending HIV in the South, and encourage greater collaboration between movements and donors. Specifically, the Fund will:

  • Increase resources available and invested in the South;
  • Advance efforts at providing unfettered access to HIV prevention and care in the region; and
  • Increase collaboration within the HIV community and across various social and reproductive justice movements.

Grantees receiving inaugural funding include, among others:

  • Equality Florida and Equality Foundation of Georgia to support new leaders and expand local capacity to organize around important policy proposals.
  • Valley AIDS Council to provide prevention and care services on the Frontera (Mexican border).
  • Freedom Fund Network in Florida was given funding for its work posting bail and connecting people living with HIV to care upon release.
  • Birmingham AIDS Outreach received support to engage in intersectional, pro-bono legal advocacy.
  • North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition to counter racial discrimination and promote justice reform for people who use drugs in North Carolina.
  • Southern AIDS Coalition got funds to support the development of regional grassroots leadership among queer people of color and those living with HIV.

“There are no patient navigators at parish testing centers to help guide eligible people to PrEP or treatment,” explained Monica Johnson, founder and executive director of HEROES in Columbia, Louisiana, and a Fund grantee. “With Fund support, HEROES will be able to build, field test and assess outcomes of deploying a ‘digital patient navigator’ to guide people from testing to the single Ryan White Clinic in our area. By the end of the grant period, we are hopeful that rural areas of the U.S. will have a powerful new tool to support linkage to care in rural areas, where 15 percent of people living with HIV in the U.S. reside. HEROES is extremely grateful for the support developing real solutions to the HIV epidemic in the South. It’s both our passion and our mission.”

“This initial investment is just a first step in providing resources needed to tackle the challenges of HIV in the region,” added Barnes. Central to our work in the U.S. South is addressing the social and economic dimensions of the HIV epidemic. In order to make sustainable progress, we will need funders that address the issues that intersect with, and often fuel the HIV/AIDS epidemic — health equity, racism, homophobia, poverty, and reproductive health and justice — to join our efforts.”

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About the Southern HIV Impact Fund: The Southern HIV Impact Fund is a first-of-its-kind collaborative of the nation’s leading private and corporate funders of HIV-related programming. Convened by Funders Concerned About AIDS, Gilead Sciences, Ford Foundation, Elton John AIDS Foundation, ViiV Healthcare, and Johnson & Johnson will work jointly and leverage their collective efforts to promote a more coordinated and effective response to the disproportionate impact of HIV in the U.S. South. The Fund is being managed by AIDS United.