January 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm EST | by Staff reports
Grants bolster HIV care in Deep South
AIDS Alabama, Kathie Hiers, gay news, Washington Blade

AIDS Alabama CEO Kathie Hiers met with the Washington Blade in her office in Birmingham, Ala. AIDS Alabama is one of the grantees of AIDS United’s Southern REACH Initiative. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON — AIDS United has announced its Southern REACH initiative recipients, which find 21 organizations in the Deep South getting $1.4 million to “advance the rights, health and dignity of people affected by HIV,” the organization has announced.

The funding comes through “generous support of the Ford Foundation” and will go to organizations in and Texas. Though home to 37 percent of the U.S. population, residents of the South get 49 percent of new HIV diagnoses and death rates from HIV are three times higher than in other parts of the country, the CDC reports.

“These striking statistics are fueled by inequality related to poverty, stigma, racism and homophobia and further compounded by the near universal refusal to expand Medicaid throughout the region,” AIDS United representatives said in a press release.

The AIDS United Southern REACH Initiative (Regional Expansion of Access and Capacity to Address HIV/AIDS) shapes effective policies and builds capacity among local organizations to directly challenge HIV in the South and the disparities and social injustices that further fuel the epidemic. Building on the strengths of local leadership and community-based organizations, the initiative supports targeted policy and advocacy efforts driven by and for people affected by HIV in the South through strategic grants, technical assistance and by creating a network of advocates dedicated to the cause. The Ford Foundation has been funding this effort for 10 years.

The 21 grantees were selected out of a highly competitive pool of applicants and have demonstrated their ability to make significant change in their communities. Grantees are focused on issues such as voter mobilization, expanding legal services in the area of housing and employment discrimination and combating unjust HIV criminalization laws, AIDS United reports.

“I am inspired by the work of the Southern REACH grantees addressing HIV/AIDS in the Deep South,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We are proud to support the individuals and organizations working to disrupt inequality, especially in the American South, where systemic injustice, discrimination and harmful laws and prejudicial policies are still far too pervasive.”

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