At AIDS United, we understand that HIV continues to thrive through complex and deep-rooted social and economic inequities. We will not be successful in our mission of ending AIDS in America without tackling tough issues like poverty, racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, and mass incarceration in an intersectional and holistic way.
We know we don’t have all the answers, but we refuse to sit on the sidelines as HIV continues to disproportionately impact communities across the country.
Fighting for Social Justice and an End to AIDS in the South
Through Southern REACH, we are funding 28 organizations in nine Deep South states heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS, to challenge HIV by addressing the disparities and social injustices that fuel the epidemic.
Grantees are charging forward on important topics like mobilizing voters, educating local and state governments, and expanding HIV- related legal services. They are also on the forefront of the fight against HIV criminalization laws.
This work has been generously supported by the Ford Foundation for over 10 years. Learn more at southernreach.aidsunited.org.
The South is home to just 37% of the total U.S. population, yet experiences almost half (49%) of all new HIV diagnoses.
Further, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) analysis, death rates among people living with HIV in the South are three times higher than those in other parts of the country. These striking statistics are only further compounded by the near universal refusal to expand Medicaid throughout the region.
Legal Services Southern Piedmont
Helping People Living with HIV Focus on Health
Legal Services Southern Piedmont (LSSP), a Southern REACH grantee for more than 4 years, creates and enhances access to legal services for low-income people living with and impacted by HIV. These legal services have helped hundreds of people access benefits and other government programs that help them meet their most basic needs. Since 2013, they have secured over $950,000 in Medicaid, Social Security benefits, and other benefits for clients living with HIV.
Frank* came to LSSP looking for legal help with a Social Security overpayment. Frank was deemed disabled when he was diagnosed with HIV in the early 1990s. At that time, his T cell count was below 150. In 1998, he earned a few dollars over the permitted level for Social Security Disability recipients and accidentally failed to report the additional income. When Frank started looking for a better job in 2012, he voluntarily reported all his past work to Social Security. Social Security used this information against him and terminated his benefits back to the date of excess work in 1998. This caused an overpayment of more than $120,000 in benefits. Frank never knew that he was ineligible for these benefits and relied on them for more than 15 years.
A LSSP attorney helped Frank appeal the decision and represented him at his hearing. With the help of his attorney, Frank won the appeal and the overpayment was waived. Frank’s attorney also helped him obtain Medicaid and food stamp benefits.
In a letter to his attorney, Frank wrote:
“LSSP has helped me so much! The stress, financial strain, and anxiety is all gone! Now I can focus on wellness and moving forward. Thank you so much!”
*name was changed to protect privacy