2020 in review

2020 turned out much different than any of us had planned. But the year, marked by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrated once again the resilience of the HIV community. AIDS United was at the forefront of responding to COVID-19. We shifted programs and policies to make sure that our community had the resources it needed. At the same time, we never lost sight of our mission, ending the HIV epidemic in the United States.  


Informed by more than three decades of work in the field, AIDS United’s approach to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States is guided by five essential and unique elements.

Linking policy to practice.
Promoting meaningful involvement of all individuals affected by HIV.
Designing responsive grant-making programs informed by the communities we serve.
Addressing the many social determinants of health through a social justice and harm reduction approach.
Building community capacity to effectively respond to the domestic HIV epidemic.

Our impact in 2020

AIDSWatch 2020 as an in-person event was scheduled for March 30-31. But, as the COVID-19 outbreak grew into a full-fledged pandemic by the early days of March, it became clear that the event at the end of the month was at risk. By March 10, the planning partners made the decision that as leading public health organizations, we had to act quickly and out of an abundance of caution, with the health of our staff and the well-being of our constituents, partners, and communities as our number one priority. [Read more.]

The Black Women First Initiative is a collaborative project between AIDS United, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health at Boston University’s School of Social Work and Impact Marketing + Communications to evaluate and disseminate interventions for Black women living with HIV.  Under this initiative, BWF supports the design, implementation, and evaluation of bundled evidence — informed interventions for Black women living with HIV.  [Read more.]

AIDS United’s Public Policy Council had four committees in 2020, community mobilization, racial justice index, molecular surveillance, prevention, and access to care. Each did work to advance the mission of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. [Read more.]

To address the overrepresentation in new HIV incidence, and underrepresentation in leadership roles, Conexiones Positivas/Positive Connections supports community-designed and led approaches to leadership development of gay and bisexual men, other men who have sex with men and transgender Hispanic/Latinx men who are living with HIV. [Read more.]

AIDS United and Boston University led the initiative. AIDS United served as the Implementation technical assistance center for the project. In this role, AIDS United was responsible for selecting and funding the 12 performance sites, coordinating experts for each intervention and providing technical assistance. [Read more.]

AIDS United’s policy team spent considerable time in 2020 engaging in outreach with members of Congress and administration officials in Washington, D.C., educating them on issues related to drug user health and fighting for support and funding for syringe services programs, access to medication-assisted treatment, overdose consumption sites and other harm-reduction measures. [Read more.]

 In 2020, we were able to educate the HIV community, the general public and federal decision-makers about the unique needs of the aging population of people living with HIV while also addressing the myriad dangers to medication access faced by people aging with HIV that are being posed by a number of other actors, including pharmacy benefits management companies, local and state governments, various insurance payers, and other agencies of the federal government. [Read more.]

AIDS United recruited our longtime advocacy partner, the National AIDS Housing Coalition as one of our latest new Public Policy Council members in 2020. Throughout 2020, the AIDS United Policy Department continued to raise awareness of the importance of this program among community members and policymakers. [Read more.]

The Strengthening Integrated Approaches to High Impact Prevention in the Midwest Program, or shortened to the Midwest Capacity Building Assistance program, is a 5-year $4 million cooperative agreement funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide technical assistance to strengthen high-impact HIV prevention efforts to Midwest states. [Read more.]

In 2020, the Policy Department underwent several changes. First, Carl Baloney Jr. was promoted to be our vice president of Policy and Advocacy. That same month, the policy department released opposition to the Medicaid block grants and denounced the public charge rule. Then came March of 2020. By the end of the first week of March, we knew that it would be critical to protect the HIV community, forcing the policy team to pull off the seemingly impossible — move AIDSWatch to an all virtual event. [Read more.]

AIDS United’s work in Puerto Rico is designed to build the capacity of community-based organizations in Puerto Rico to most effectively combat the HIV epidemic. [Read more.]

The fund provides a combination of grants and technical assistance to community-based and social justice organizations in nine Southern states. AIDS United and the funding collaborative believe that the lives of people living with and vulnerable to HIV cannot be siloed into one issue area and therefore, organizations are expected to demonstrate how their work intersects with racial and gender justice. [Read more.]

The fund seeks to reduce the health, psychosocial and socioeconomic disparities experienced by people who use drugs. To that end, the fund invests in evidence-based and community-driven approaches to prevent the transmission of both HIV and viral hepatitis, reduce injection-related injuries, increase overdose prevention and reversal efforts, and connect people who use drugs to comprehensive prevention, treatment and support services. [Read more.]