Gilead Sciences and the Elton John AIDS Foundation have announced the launch of an initiative designed to reduce new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).
Announced at the Fast-Track Cities 2019 conference in London, the RADIAN initiative will build on an existing collaboration between EJAF and Gilead on the Key Populations Fund for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECAKP Fund) launched by the foundation in 2017. With investments of up to $25 million over five years, the initiative's dual-track approach will support innovative approaches led by community-based groups through a Model Cities program and local initiatives in rural areas through an Unmet Need Fund. Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the rate of HIV prevalence is nearly twice the national average, has been selected as the first RADIAN model city and will receive funding in support of efforts to address HIV stigma, strengthen healthcare infrastructure and care models, and increase access to innovation. Additional model cities will be announced in 2020. Best practices and lessons learned from the local implementation of RADIAN will be used as a blueprint for changing the trajectory of HIV across the region.
According to UNAIDS, even as rates of new HIV infections and deaths from AIDS-related illnesses are falling globally, EECA is one of the few regions where HIV/AIDS is on the rise, with the number of AIDS-related deaths increasing some 300 percent over the last twenty years.
"Every day, more than four hundred people in EECA become infected with HIV and a hundred die from AIDS," said EJAF founder Sir Elton John. "My foundation's work in establishing the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Key Populations (EECAKP) fund with Gilead and others a couple of years ago forcefully underscored for us the need to drastically expand our efforts in the region. So, I'm delighted that the foundation is once again working with Gilead through RADIAN to provide much-needed support and funding to reverse trends and reach some of the world's most vulnerable people. Together, we can create change, save lives, and ensure no one is left behind in the fight to end the epidemic."