The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) today announced that it has reached the historic milestone of having raised more than $300 million for HIV prevention, treatment, advocacy, and anti-stigma programs across the globe.
Founded in 1992, EJAF is one of the largest HIV/AIDS grant-making organizations in the world. Charity Navigator, America’s premier charity evaluator, has ranked EJAF as a four-star charity – the highest possible rating – for the past seven consecutive years.
“After 20 years of doing this work, I know that the only way to fight against AIDS is by helping everyone in need, especially those living at the margins of society,” said Sir Elton John. “I’m so grateful to all our donors, whose generosity has allowed us to support dozens of innovative organizations that provide critical services to the most stigmatized populations around the world. These organizations are doing work that governments refuse to do, and helping people that governments refuse to help. I’m proud and honored to support them. And even though our foundation has reached this wonderful milestone, there is so much more work to be done.”
EJAF’s grant-making targets regions and populations poorly served by current prevention efforts and most at risk of HIV infection, including critically under-funded communities in the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean; stigmatized and marginalized populations including men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and incarcerated individuals; and under-served populations including African Americans and young people.
Examples of EJAF’s grant-making include:
• Harm reduction programs: Each year in the US, more than 4,000 new HIV infections result from shared needles among injection drug users. Numerous studies have shown that syringe exchange is a highly effective means of curbing these infections and providing an effective pathway into drug rehabilitation programs. In 2011, however, Congress once again banned the use of federal funding for syringe exchange. Since 2005, EJAF has invested more than $3.6 million nationally in grassroots needle exchange and harm reduction programs through the Syringe Access Fund, a partnership with AIDS United, the Irene Diamond Fund, the Open Society Foundations, and the Levi Strauss Foundation. In 2012 alone, EJAF invested more than $1 million in grants to 46 organizations for services and policy work related to ending HIV infection among injection drug users.
• Treatment and prevention programs for the incarcerated: More than 150,000 HIV-positive men and women pass through U.S. correctional facilities every year. EJAF funds programs addressing the health of incarcerated people to ensure uninterrupted access to medical care and other support both inside and outside of prisons, so that former prisoners can stay healthy when they rejoin society. The Foundation has invested over $1 million in the work of the ACLU’s national prisons project and reproductive health justice work. With this support, the ACLU initiated and won a lawsuit in 2012 against the State of Alabama over its unlawful segregation of HIV-positive prisoners. According to an attorney present in the courtroom, “It was history happening in real time.”
• Advocacy for those living with HIV: Every year, EJAF invests approximately $1 million in national and state-level HIV/AIDS advocacy programs. Recently, the Foundation funded organizations working with state legislators in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, to educate them about the importance of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which provides access to anti-HIV medications for low-income Americans. In July 2012, in response to the collective activism of dozens of organizations, including EJAF, and the work of members of Congress committed to this issue, the Obama Administration announced new funding to eliminate ADAP waiting lists.
“We cannot be satisfied with the status quo, because the status quo means that we will never realize the dream of an AIDS-free generation,” said EJAF’s Chairman David Furnish. “We must fight, and end, the complacency about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this country. And we must stop the active ignorance towards the needs of the marginalized and the voiceless. If we want to achieve an AIDS-free generation – if we want to end AIDS – we have to act.”
Sir Elton John established the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992 to provide a direct response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic during a time when many people were dying, and little was being done for marginalized populations most at risk of infection. Over the years, EJAF’s strategic investments have helped make tremendous strides in reducing HIV infections among drug users, bringing effective sexual health programs to disadvantaged youth, and ramping up treatment access programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States.
Elton’s leadership on HIV/AIDS has been recognized by the U.S. Congress, where he has testified twice on the importance of a global response to HIV/AIDS in 2002 and 2012, and by the international community, which he addressed as a keynote speaker at the July 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C.
The work of EJAF and Elton’s vision of an AIDS-free world are documented in Elton’s New York Times best-selling book, Love Is the Cure, released by Little, Brown in July 2012.
American Airlines is the official sponsoring airline of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
For more information, please visit www.EJAF.org.