Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are more disproportionately impacted by HIV in the United States than any other community. Through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), AIDS United launched m2MPower. The initiative works to re-energize and re-engage the LGBTQ community in our nation’s response to HIV and AIDS.


Collaboration with LGBTQ partners and their re-commitment to the charge is necessary to effectively fight this epidemic. Through the Creating Change Conference, AIDS United—alongside their strategic partner the National LGBTQ Task Force—encouraged development of HIV-focused content. This included 16 workshops on HIV/AIDS, an HIV testing campaign, a plenary session with some of the country’s leading HIV experts, and a keynote address by AIDS United President & CEO Michael Kaplan.

AIDS United provided HIV-associated trainings to two national LGBTQ organizations—GLAAD and the GLSEN. This work involves staff educational sessions on key HIV epidemic data, including its impact on the LGBTQ community. Given the disproportionate burden of HIV on this community, research LGBTQ groups are doing may offer important lens and lessons through which to examine barriers, address stigma, and curtail the epidemic. And, together, we can solidify this promise and see it to fruition.

Other ways AIDS United is rekindling a movement is through its annual "#PrideInPrevention" campaign. This year, users were encouraged to create an Instagram image that encouraged community-based organizations serving the broader LGBTQ community to jumpstart the conversation and increase awareness around HIV among gay and bisexual men.

AIDS United is also raising awareness of HIV in the media. In collaboration with GLAAD and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, AIDS United helped to develop HIV & AIDS in the News: A Guide for Reporting in a New Era of Prevention & Treatment, focused on accurate reporting of HIV.



  • Campus Pride
  • Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
  • National LG BTQ Task Force

“GLSEN’s work with AIDS United came at a critical moment — the nation is waking up to the devastation that the epidemic is having upon young men, and so many more of the youth that GLSEN serves.

At the same time, there is new hope for prevention to stem the tide. For nearly 25 years, GLSEN has been dedicated to LGBT issues in K-12 schools, including affirming and inclusive health curriculum that provides potentially life-saving information to youth.

Our partnership with AIDS United has led us to be more thoughtful and forceful about including information about HIV/AIDS in our curricula materials, in our resources for educators and in our professional development with educators.”

– Eliza Byard, Ph.D., GLSEN Executive Director

Positive organizing project

In 2014, with funding from Gilead Foundation, AIDS United launched the Positive Organizing Project (POP). Under this project AIDS United funded three demonstration sites in Seattle, Detroit, and Houston, along with the United States People Living with HIV Caucus, in an effort to better mobilize and further engage people living with HIV in

  • building community
  • combatting stigma, and
  • improving policy environments that impact people living with and at risk for HIV.

The latest advances of the HIV-response has placed an increasing amount of focus on medical solutions, and in many ways, the traditional HIV response that was built upon community organizing with strong engagement of many people living with HIV, has weakened.

Yet, there is value and worth in having people living with HIV involved in the design of their services—and this inclusion positively affects their health outcomes, as well as their sense of autonomy navigating services.

Through POP, AIDS United reignites the strategies so successful in first establishing a response to HIV/AIDS and encourages more meaningful involvement of people living with HIV.

Building a Legacy

Legacy Community Health engaged 300 people living with HIV through their POP activities. These ranged from outreach events, community projects, trainings, and broader non-HIV civic engagements too, underscoring the importance of community involvement at large.

POP participants took part in Legacy Community Health’s World AIDS Day activities, helped secure a World AIDS Day Proclamation from the City of Houston, and hosted a local event in support of the National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women with HIV. The POP project increased not only local involvement, but created local leaders too:

  • 15 people living with HIV enrolled in Legacy Community Health’s intensive six-week comprehensive training;
  • Two-thirds participated in the Texas Advocacy Day;
  • two participants were named to the Ryan White Planning Council—one of whom was elected Vice President of the Council; and
  • the POP Coordinator, a woman living with HIV, has been hired fulltime at Legacy Community Health—the first time a person living with HIV has organized the statewide Texas HIV/AIDS Taskforce advocacy group.

As a Legacy Community Health member explains, “[This] framework ensures that those most likely to be impacted by policies and programs are at the forefront in prioritizing, envisioning, and designing those programs and policies.” And that is the power of the POP.

“Meaningful involvement of people living with HIV/AIDS is more than involving people with HIV—it requires meaningfully involving folks from the communities most impacted by HIV in leadership and in decision making,” explains Naina Khanna, Executive Director of Positive Women’s Network and AIDS United Trustee. “Making an organizational commitment to this engagement provides a framework to ensure that those most likely to be impacted by policies and programs are at the forefront in prioritizing, visioning, and designing those programs and policies.”

slidebg1 Photo courtesy Lifelong’s Facebook account
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“People cannot achieve their fullest health potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health.
–World Health Organization, 1986

  • Legacy Community Health Houston, TX
  • AIDS Partnership Michigan Detroit, MI
  • Lifelong Seattle, WA


Southern Reach

The South is home to 7 of the top 10 states with the highest rates of HIV diagnoses.1 The myriad challenges across this region highlight a stark need for stronger HIV infrastructure. Creating the political will, as well as the capacity to address these challenges requires sustained strategic and effective advocacy led by and for Southerners.

AIDS United has led the charge to identify and eliminate HIV-related health disparities in the South. We have built an unparalleled advocacy infrastructure by managing more than $11 million invested by the Ford Foundation in communities throughout the South through our Southern REACH (Regional Expansion of Access and Capacity to Address HIV/AIDS) initiative. This represents one of the largest non-governmental funding sources for HIV policy and advocacy in the South, and is made possible through generous support by the Ford Foundation.

The promise cannot become a reality without addressing HIV in the South.

The program taps into all the strengths of AIDS United—from strategic grantmaking that can truly effect change, to work in policy and technical assistance. “REACH helps us serve the most vulnerable people in our area,” explains Soreé Finley of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. “It’s a population that is often misjudged and overlooked, and without this critical funding, they would have nowhere else to go.”

Turning Crisis into Collaboration

Research shows that a lack of affordable housing leads to poorer health outcomes for people living with HIV. And unfortunately, three-quarters of the nearly 7,000 individuals living with HIV in greater New Orleans experience one or more indicators of housing instability. Collaborative Solutions Inc. (CSI), an AIDS United Southern REACH grantee, started working in New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina hit in August of 2005. With so many people displaced from their homes and falling out of care, “it was an unbelievable explosion of misery,” explains Crystal Pope, CSI’s senior technical assistance manager.

What’s more, the city’s housing market has never fully rebounded — the number of available units is still low, rents are 30% to 40% higher than before, and average income for people living with HIV has fallen dramatically. “So the group that we brought together early on to provide relief has developed over the years into the organization we call the CHANGE [Coalition of HIV/AIDS Nonprofits and Governmental Entities] Coalition,” says Pope.

Over the years, CHANGE has worked with the city to develop New Orleans’ five-year plan outlining priorities for federal housing assistance programs (as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). From improved access to housing for people living with HIV, public awareness campaigns, and other legislative gains, this Southern REACH grantee underscores what’s possible when need, political will, and necessary funding meet. As Pope summarizes, “[The CHANGE Coalition model] is relevant anywhere. But it’s particularly relevant in the South, where the challenges are just so much greater in terms of the level of poverty, the amount of community resources that are available, and the growing prevalence of HIV.” (To read more about CSI, other grantee case studies, and the Southern REACH project, visit


10 Years Addressing HIV in the South
AIDS United Launches Southern REACH Website

Celebrating 10 years of work in the South, AIDS United invites you to visit the newly launched Southern REACH website.

The website examines the HIV epidemic in the South, AIDS United’s work in removing policy, political, legal, and systemic barriers to ensure health, human rights, and dignity for people living with HIV. Grantee case studies outline frontline developments and why more work continues to be needed in the South.

Syringe Access Fund

Whether in large urban centers or quiet rural Midwest towns, injection drug use and its associated risk of infection and overdose do not discriminate. That’s why the Syringe Access Fund (SAF) remains as pertinent today as it did 10 years ago when the program was born.

The country’s largest private supporter of syringe exchange programs (SEPs), the Syringe Access Fund was created in 2004 to support syringe exchange and public policy activities to reduce the risk of HIV infection, hepatitis C and other blood-borne pathogens among injection drug users and their sexual partners through expanded access to sterile syringes. To date, the SAF has awarded more than $15.1 million.

The Syringe Access Fund awarded two-year grants for a total of $2.4 million. Through this collaboration, AIDS United directly funds a subset of the organizations supported by resources from the Irene Diamond Fund, Levi Strauss Foundation, Open Society Foundations, and Tides Foundation. These grantees are noted with an asterisk (*) on the following page. The remaining grantees are funded directly under the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

SAF uses scientifically proven syringe exchange practices and leverages public policy to make real and meaningful strides to prevent HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne pathogens. In 2014, SAF supported nearly half of all new syringes used for syringe exchange programs. To date, it is the country’s largest private supporter of syringe exchange programs (SEPs).

Turning Point

“Joseph’s” story is one of change. Of promise. Of hope. And of second chances.

In 2010, Joseph was addicted to heroin and was out of and resistant to accessing medical care. Enter SAF grantee, Family Health Centers of San Diego. Staff knew Joseph from their Safe Point, San Diego program—the only city-sanctioned syringe exchange program. By 2013, staff had begun to meet Joseph on a weekly basis to create short-term, achievable goals. Within three months, Joseph re-engaged into care for his HIV infection and mental health. In 2014, Joseph decided to stop using drugs and enter a detoxification facility. Thanks to strong working relationships Safe Point, San Diego staff have with local treatment facilities, Joseph was able to enroll into a program within a week. And with Family Health Centers of San Diego’s help, Joseph not only graduated from his detox program but subsequently from an outpatient treatment program too and, now, hopes to have a different kind of graduation altogether: college.

Today, Joseph is enrolled at a local community college, has a steady job, and stable housing. Joseph has reconnected with his family. He’s someplace he never could have imagined just four short years ago, but here he is.

Joseph’s story is a reminder that ending AIDS and reducing the risks that fuel transmissions is possible. It starts with one, and it ends with none.


Syringe Access Fund

The country’s largest private supporter of Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs)


Astericks indiate programs directly funded by AIDS United; all others funded by Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Puerto Rico

Effectively curtailing HIV infections and fulfilling the promise to end AIDS means proactively addressing areas most disproportionately affected. That includes leveraging resources to Puerto Rico, where the U.S. territory has some of the highest rates of health disparities in the United States, including HIV. In fact, HIV infection rates, progression to AIDS, and HIV-associated deaths are all significantly higher in Puerto Rico than national averages.

AIDS United, in collaboration with funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, H. Van Amerigen Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, and the M·A·C AIDS Fund, provide increased support for people living with HIV in Puerto Rico, as well as the agencies that serve them.

Programs funded in Puerto Rico are diverse and tailor-fit to the communities they serve. From peer outreach for young MSM, use of art as means to boost self confidence and resilience, syringe exchange, HIV testing and education, and more, organizations are connecting to—and informing—people most at risk and bringing them into care and services.

In 2014, AIDS United made an investment in strategic female leadership development. Representatives from 10 organizations from across the island participated in the AIDS United “Emerging Female Leaders Workshop” event. Representatives all had managerial or executive experience at communitybased organizations, as well as demonstrated passion and commitment to addressing HIV in Puerto Rico. The intensive two-day workshop was conducted in Spanish with topics including self-care, emotional intelligence, strategic planning, leadership development, and strength through collaboration.


Health Disparities in Puerto Rico

Fulfilling the promise of an AIDS-free generation means targeting efforts where need is highest.


Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HIV Surveillance Report, 2013; vol. 25. Accessed May 18, 2015.

AIDS United. Puerto Rico. Available at: Accessed May 18, 2015.


1. CDC. National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention Atlas. Data are estimates from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. dependent areas.