July 2, 2015 at 2:22 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Us Helping Us awarded $1.75 million AIDS grant

Ron Simmons, Us Helping Us, gay news, Washington Blade

Us Helping Us CEO Ron Simmons (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Wednesday that it has awarded a five year, $1.75 million grant to the D.C.-based AIDS service organization Us Helping Us to provide HIV prevention and treatment related services for mostly black gay men.

“We are thrilled,” said Ron Simmons, president and CEO of Us Helping Us. “This grant will allow us to continue the vital work we do preventing HIV infection among black gay/same-gender-loving men and caring for those who are infected,” he said.

The CDC announcement says Us Helping Us is one of 90 community-based organizations throughout the country to receive a total of $216 million in grant funds over a five-year period.

According to the announcement, the selected groups will “deliver effective HIV prevention strategies to those at greatest risk, including people of color, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgender individuals and people who inject drugs.”

“The organizations we’re funding have a strong foothold in the hardest-hit communities,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS. “They have the credibility and experience needed to deliver the most effective HIV prevention strategies to those who need them most.”

The announcement says the grant period began July 1 and ends in 2020. Us Helping Us, which is located at 3636 Georgia Ave., N.W., will receive its grant funding in annual installments of $350,000.

Us Helping Us says the programs it will operate under the grant will target black gay men and trans individuals, and will include HIV counseling and testing, screenings for sexually transmitted infections and Hepatitis C, and two behavioral interventions. One of the interventions targets HIV-positive men and the other is directed toward high-risk HIV negative men, the group says in its statement.

“I want to thank the staff that helped us to write this grant,” said Ernest Walker, director of programs for Us Helping Us. “It was a very competitive application, open to organizations nationwide. They should be very proud.”

The CDC announcement says four other D.C. based community organizations received grants under the CDC program — Family and Medical Counseling Service, Inc.; La Clinica del Pueblo; Sasha Bruce Youthwork and Women’s Collective.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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