The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) have teamed up once again in a historic and strategic move to combat the AIDS epidemic in The South, where the focus is desperately needed. Over the past 20 years, these two organizations have raised more than $349 million to fight every aspect of the war against AIDS, and now, they have awarded a whopping $330,000 in grants to five of the most deserving programs in the Southern U.S. in order to gain momentum in their global assault on this deadly disease.
The five auspicious winners of the grants, who have expressed their gratitude and excitement for the future of their much-needed programs, include:
- Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center (MGLCC), which notes that, according to Will Batts, Executive Director:
Generous funding from the Elton John AIDS Foundation has allowed us to expand our work serving communities hardest hit and most at risk for HIV/AIDS, with new staff and innovative strategies.
- Georgia Equality/Equality Foundation of Georgia, whose Executive Director, Jeff Graham, explains:
We're very honored to have the support of EJAF/ETAF. This funding will allow us to continue our groundbreaking work to develop and implement policy agendas that address the need for better HIV prevention and access to care and services.
EJAF has a long history of supporting innovative programs, the added support of ETAF further enhances those efforts in a region that has been so hard hit.
- JASMYN Executive Director, Cindy Watson, says they'll use their gift:
To provide access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) for high risk young gay and bisexual men and transgender women of color in Jacksonville, a "Deep South" city in north Florida with some of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the country.
- Racial Justice Action Center Co-Director, Xochitl Bervera, feels:
It's an incredible honor to be awarded this funding to do the work of ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic by ending criminalization of our communities. This funding particularly enables us to heal our communities' many traumas and puts us on a path for a transformed world.
- Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO), as its Executive Director, Karen Musgrove, indicates:
BAO is forever grateful to The Elton John AIDS Foundation and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation for seeing the need in our community, giving us the support to open The Magic City Acceptance Center and expand our programs and services to meet the needs of the LGBTQ youth in Alabama.
These organizations and their leaders work tirelessly every single day to erase the threat of HIV/AIDS from the planet and restore and empower lives.
Chairman of The Elton John AIDS Foundation, David Furnish, describes the motivation behind the grant-making, saying:
Poor access to HIV testing and good healthcare, as well as pervasive inequality for people most vulnerable to the disease, continue to make the U.S. South an epicenter of today's AIDS crisis.
He goes on to say:
This is particularly true for LGBTQ individuals and Black Americans living in the Southern states. A recent CDC report has projected that, if HIV infection rates remain unchanged, half of all Black gay men will test positive for HIV at some point in their lifetime, as well as one in four Latino gay men, and one in eleven white gay men. By making these grants, both Foundations commit to relentless advocacy and investment until we see meaningful and lasting change in the course of this epidemic.
Of course for EJAF Founder, Elton John, his Foundation's partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has deep personal and sentimental meaning for him, as he expresses that:
In the 1980's when the AIDS epidemic began, Elizabeth Taylor was the brightest star in Hollywood, one of the greatest celebrities in the world, but she was also willing to get her hands dirty. She stood up for gay people when few others would, and she got right into the nitty-gritty of AIDS policy and fought for the cause, without a moment's hesitation or thought for her own reputation. Elizabeth was my dear friend, and she remains one of my heroes. I am extremely proud of EJAF's partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to help carry her great legacy forward.
I am quite sure that the iconic Elizabeth Taylor would be beaming with joy and pride today to know that her great work is being carried into the future on her behalf, in conjunction with her loving friend and kindred spirit, Elton John. The Managing Director of ETAF, Joel Goldman, affirms those feelings by noting:
At The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, we are thrilled to join the Elton John AIDS Foundation to help right this imbalance and address the needs of the hardest-hit areas and populations in the U.S. South.
Mr. Goldman adds:
Far too many people are denied equal rights and equal access to health care in this country, especially in the Southern U.S. This partnership helps to address the serious inequities that exist in the provision of education, diagnosis, and treatment for the people most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
The battle against AIDS will undoubtedly be won someday thanks to the combined resources of Elton John and Elizabeth Taylor, who are not only known for their legendary talent, but are also well-known "warriors of love for humanity." Their shared philosophy demonstrates the importance of giving love and respect to all people, which in turn, creates powerful, positive change in the world. Because of them, this disease doesn't stand a chance.
Even though the Southern U.S. may be facing a tough road ahead, through the generosity and determination of EJAF and ETAF, along with the strong efforts of bright, innovative groups that have their unwavering support, HIV/AIDS is getting hit back harder than ever before.
To learn more about any of these helpful organizations, feel free to visit their websites: