The New York City-based Ford Foundation has announced the launch of a five-year, $25 million initiative to address the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on marginalized communities in the United States.
The initiative will target communities in Washington, D.C., and the nine Southern states that rank among the highest in the nation in terms of new AIDS cases while supporting efforts to address the spread of HIV among African Americans, women, and Latinos. Ford will award grants to organizations working to build strong constituencies of leaders, especially among the most affected communities; expand advocacy and litigation work at both the federal and state levels; and fight the stigma and discrimination that contribute to the spread of the disease.
The foundation also will support national and regional organizations working to build the advocacy capacity of local efforts such as Southern REACH, a grantmaking initiative administered by the National AIDS Fund that supports nonprofits in the South with a proven track record of reaching marginalized communities most affected by HIV. Southern REACH focuses its efforts in Alabama, Arkansas, northern Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the South accounted for 46 percent of new AIDS cases in the United States in 2007 and has the greatest number of people estimated to be living with AIDS. CDC also found that racial and ethnic minorities represented 71 percent of new cases and 70 percent of AIDS deaths; that women represent a larger share of new HIV infections than they did earlier in the epidemic; and that African American women account for 65 percent of new AIDS cases among women and have a prevalence rate eighteen times that of white women.
"This crisis is affecting the places and people that as a country we too easily ignore," said Ford Foundation president Luis A. Ubi�as. "This initiative aims not only to help stop the spread of HIV, but also to address the stigma and discrimination that allowed the epidemic to grow in these communities in the first place."