Growing HIV/AIDS Crisis in South to be Tackled By New Initiative


“Southern REACH,” led by the National AIDS Fund, with $1.8 Million from the Ford Foundation and Elton John AIDS Foundation, will build community capacity in nine Southern states.
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28, 2007– Responding to the Southern states’ AIDS crisis, the National AIDS Fund today announced an initiative to provide grants and assistance to community-based organizations in nine Southern states with the goal of broadening and strengthening community capacity to address HIV/AIDS in marginalized, at-risk populations.
Non-profit organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida (specifically Northern Florida), Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee will be eligible in the first grant round.  The National AIDS Fund (NAF) will award 20-30 grants averaging $45,000 each.
The initiative, “Southern REACH,” will be led by the National AIDS Fund, and is supported with an initial $1.55M from the Ford Foundation and $250,000 from the Elton John AIDS Foundation —both long-time major funders of National AIDS Fund work.  The Ford Foundation's support of Southern REACH builds on its existing investment in NAF's Gulf Coast HIV/AIDS Relief Fund.  The Elton John AIDS Foundation partners with NAF to fund hundreds of HIV-prevention programs across the country as well as other special initiatives.
Eight of the top 10 states in which the highest percentage of African Americans who have AIDS live are in the South, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics.  In all of those states, the majority of people who have AIDS are African American.*
Six of the top 10 states in which the highest percentage of women who have AIDS live are in the South, according to the CDC. *
HIV/AIDS is a significant public health and social justice crisis in the United States, and the South in particular is heavily burdened.  Problems of poverty, poor education, and limited community resources are among the reasons individuals in the South are especially impacted by HIV/AIDS.
Through Southern REACH, the National AIDS Fund will provide general operating program grants to strategically positioned community-based organizations that have demonstrated ability to reach priority populations with HIV prevention and care services or to lead policy and advocacy efforts.
An emphasis will be placed on including community-based organizations that have strong access to priority at-risk populations, which include public health and social justice organizations that may not have HIV/AIDS work as their primary mission and may not regularly access traditional HIV/AIDS funding streams.  Priority populations include communities of color; expanding immigrant communities and migrant workers; gay and bisexual men; transgendered persons; women; high-risk youth; people in prison; the homeless; and those fighting drug addiction, particularly injection drug use.
“HIV/AIDS is more than a disease – it is a symptom of the larger problems of social inequalities and racial/ethnic health disparities,” said Kandy Ferree, National AIDS Fund president & CEO.  “Nowhere are such issues more prevalent in the U.S. than in the South.  The National AIDS Fund is primed to lead this philanthropic strategy to broaden and strengthen community HIV/AIDS resources across the Southern United States, but we can’t do this alone.  We need individuals, corporations, and foundations to demonstrate leadership to help tackle this critical health crisis.”
“There are many community-based organizations that are serving at-risk populations, including communities of color, women, immigrants, high-risk youth, the homeless, LGBT** communities and others, though they may not currently have the capacity or resources to adequately address HIV/AIDS as a part of their work,” said Terry McGovern, Ford Foundation program officer.  “Substance abuse treatment providers, reproductive health agencies, faith-based organizations, migrant health organizations, and other public health and social justice organizations need to be part of every community’s response to HIV/AIDS, particularly in the South.”
“While a lot has been accomplished in support of HIV prevention and care, there is still much that needs to be done to help people who are often left out of the public health dialog,”  said Scott Campbell, executive director of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.  “HIV/AIDS continues to spread into all areas of the U.S., especially the Deep South.  There is no excuse to overlook people without access to health care or information in order to save lives and prevent an epidemic from spreading.”
Recognizing that capacity building often requires more than financial resources, Southern REACH will include technical assistance (TA) to help maximize the success of the grantees.  A regional TA team will be selected to work with the National AIDS Fund to provide coaching and other technical assistance to a subset of the grantees.
Applications for funding from community-based organizations will be due November 16, 2007, 5 p.m., EST.  Grant decisions will be made with the guidance of a panel of diverse experts from the region.