Fighting the AIDS Epidemic in the Deep South Through Intersectional Advocacy

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AIDS United's Southern REACH initiative awards $1.4 million in funding to 23 organizations in the Deep South

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“We cannot end the epidemic...without addressing the disparities experienced by racial, gender and sexual minorities, and nowhere are these disparities more pronounced than in the U.S. South." -Jesse Milan, Jr.

Through the generous support of the Ford Foundation, 23 organizations in nine Deep South states heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS will receive critical support to fight the HIV epidemic by addressing the disparities and social injustices that fuel the epidemic. By adopting an intersectional approach, Southern REACH grantees will advance the rights, health and dignity of people affected by HIV in their communities.

The South is home to just 37% of the total U.S. population, yet almost half (49%) of all new HIV diagnoses happen in Deep South states. Further, many people living with HIV face overwhelming challenges such as racism, poverty, lack of access to education, HIV-related stigma, homophobia, transphobia, fear of deportation and lack of access to insurance and specialized HIV. These issues won’t be solved without strategic, effective advocacy that reaches far beyond constituencies historically focused on HIV.

That’s why the AIDS United Southern REACH (Regional Expansion of Access and Capacity to Address HIV/AIDS) grantees will tackle things differently. REACH grantees will address HIV-related disparities where public health and social justice intersect. This includes focusing on key areas such as community organizing and mobilization, meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in policymaking and the integration of HIV into key social and racial justice frameworks.

“The HIV epidemic continues through complex and deep-rooted social and economic inequities,” said Jesse Milan, Jr., AIDS United president & CEO. “We cannot end the epidemic and advance the lives of people living with HIV without addressing the disparities experienced by racial, gender and sexual minorities, and nowhere are these disparities more pronounced than in the U.S. South. This is difficult work, but AIDS United and the Ford Foundation are proud to be at the forefront of this movement.”

The 23 grantees were selected out of a highly competitive pool of applicants that came from HIV, reproductive justice, housing and other social movements. Each grantee has demonstrated the ability to make significant change in their community and a deep commitment to cross-movement collaboration. Grantees are focused on important issues such as protecting and advancing health care access, expanding legal services in the areas of housing and employment discrimination and combating unjust HIV criminalization laws.

“It’s clear that we need to work together across movements to strengthen our collective efforts to advance equity and social justice,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “I believe that Southern REACH, a program that we have supported for over 10 years, is a galvanizing force in the region. We are proud to support those in the vanguard of the struggle, especially in the American South where discrimination and harmful laws and policies are so pervasive,” said Walker.

The 2017 Southern REACH grantees include:

  • AIDS Alabama - Birmingham, AL
  • Basic NWFL, Inc. - Panama City, FL
  • Birmingham AIDS Outreach Inc. - Birmingham, AL
  • BreakOUT!/ Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs - New Orleans, LA
  • Counter Narrative Project - Atlanta, GA
  • Duke Health Justice Clinic - Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI) - Durham, NC
  • Equality Florida Institute, Inc. - St. Petersburg, FL
  • Equality Foundation of Georgia - Atlanta, GA
  • Frontline Legal Services, Inc. - New Orleans, LA
  • Latino Commission on AIDS, Inc. - Raleigh, NC
  • Legacy Community Health Services, Inc. - Houston, TX
  • Legal Services of Southern Piedmont - Charlotte, NC
  • Mississippi Center for Justice - Jackson, MS
  • My Brother's Keeper - Ridgeland, MS
  • Nashville CARES Inc. - Nashville,    TN
  • North Carolina AIDS Action Network - Raleigh, NC
  • North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc. (NCHRC) - Raleigh, NC
  • Racial Justice Action Center - East Point, GA
  • Rural Women's Health Project - Gainesville, FL
  • SisterLove, Inc. - Atlanta, GA
  • South Carolina HIV Task Force - Ridgeland, SC
  • Southern AIDS Coalition - Birmingham, AL
  • Southerners On New Ground - Atlanta, GA

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About AIDS United:

AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $98 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $115 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to, HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. http://www.aidsunited.org.

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Cody Barnett
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