The Elton John AIDS Foundation has announced new funding initiatives aimed at increasing advocacy and service delivery for people living with and at risk of HIV and hepatitis C in the United States, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.
In the U.S., the foundation will launch a program designed to connect an estimated five thousand HIV-positive African-American gay men and transgender individuals to health care, social services, and treatment, and another ten thousand to HIV prevention services, including access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). The initiative also will support advocacy efforts aimed at boosting coverage for PrEP through Medicaid and AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP); expanding Medicaid; engaging leaders from the African-American gay and transgender communities; and supporting community mobilization efforts aimed at reducing new infections and AIDS-related illnesses and deaths.
Over the past three years, EJAF-US has invested more than $6.6 million in support of African-American gay and bisexual men and transgender communities. According to the organization, the new initiative is the largest ever privately funded effort targeting those populations.
In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, EJAF will launch the Key Populations Fund for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA KP Fund), with a focus on the prevention and treatment of HIV and hepatitis C among those most at risk — people who use drugs, sex workers, and gay and bisexual men. In addition to providing an estimated twenty thousand people with HIV prevention, testing, and treatment services, the three-year initiative will include a "rapid response" component for emergencies, including the physical safety of people living with HIV, as well as "lighthouse" grants that support HIV and hepatitis C care within the public health system.
"The HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, particularly in Russia and Ukraine, remains the fastest growing in the world," said Anne Aslett, executive director of EJAF-UK. "As other donors have withdrawn from the region, EJAF remains committed to supporting people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, and sex workers throughout the region to improve their health and protect their human rights. The EECA KP Fund is the first initiative of its kind. It aims not only to save the lives of thousands of very vulnerable people but to introduce new ways of addressing and scaling up response to the region's expanding epidemic."
(Photo credit: National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases)