The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) announced nearly $1.5 million in new grants today, including a new program aimed at addressing the rampant stigma against HIV-positive people and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) community.

With this round of grant-making, EJAF is awarding seven new and six renewal grants that fund innovative projects addressing the health and human rights challenges facing LGBTQ people, and supporting cutting-edge advocacy work on drug policy and HIV decriminalization. The new funding amounts to $1.456 million, bringing EJAF’s grant investments for 2014 to date to nearly $2 million.

In particular, EJAF’s new LGBTQ Community Initiative will engage directly with marginalized voices within the LGBTQ community to identify urgently-needed new approaches in our ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. Specifically, the Initiative will work to address the lack of knowledge surrounding HIV among gay Americans, to create a more transparent culture in LGBTQ communities affected by HIV, and to fight the severe lack of access to welcoming medical care available to LGBTQ people in this country.

“This has been a year of great triumphs for LGBTQ Americans. However, rates of HIV infection are still increasing in the community. That’s why we are investing an additional $1.0-1.5 million across our second and third grant cycles to support new, dynamic, innovative programs by LGBTQ organizations and organizations working to confront the AIDS crisis in the community,” said EJAF Chairman David Furnish. “The health and equality of gay people will continue to be top priorities for the Foundation.”

A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation examined the understanding of HIV among gay and bisexual men, and their results further underscore the importance and timeliness of EJAF’s LGBTQ Community Initiative. The survey revealed that few gay and bisexual men report discussing HIV with their friends and sexual partners; most are not getting tested for HIV as regularly as they should; and more than half report that their doctors have never recommended that they be tested for HIV and that they rarely ever discuss HIV with their doctors.

The Initiative also includes a particular emphasis on programs for transgender people.

“Transgender people are sidelined within the broader movement to end HIV and in the fight for expanded access to healthcare,” said EJAF Executive Director Scott Campbell. “We look forward to working directly with advocates from the transgender community who can help us ensure that our grants continue to go where the need is highest.”

“The Elton John AIDS Foundation is committed to confronting HIV/AIDS where it exists,” said EJAF Founder Sir Elton John. “We recognize that the health needs and rights of LGBTQ people, and particularly transgender people, are critical components to ending HIV in the United States. The Foundation also recognizes the lack of funding and leadership in this area and is rising to the challenge to meet this need.”

Source: PR Newswire

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