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EJAF announces bold new funding initiatives to combat HIV epidemics in Eastern Europe/Central Asia and in the U.S.

10 October 2017

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The Elton John AIDS Foundation today announced new funding initiatives to increase advocacy and service delivery for people living with and at-risk for HIV and hepatitis C.

In Eastern Europe, we will launch the Key Populations Fund for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA KP Fund), focused on prevention and treatment of HIV for individuals most vulnerable to the HIV epidemic in the region: people who use drugs, sex workers, and gay and bisexual men in the region.

Over 1.5 million people are living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. New HIV infections in the region have increased by over 50% since 2010. People who inject drugs, sex workers, and gay men, as well as their sexual partners make up over 96% of those infected. Most people living with HIV in EECA are not on treatment. Co-infections with hepatitis C are also widespread with an estimated 60 – 98% of people living with HIV who inject drugs co-infected with hepatitis C, depending on the country.

The EECA KP Fund will reach an estimated 20,000 people with HIV prevention, testing, and treatment, and will provide treatment for 5,000 patients who are co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C.

Mirroring a current $10m Fund that the Foundation runs for LGBT populations in countries in Africa where homosexuality is criminalized, the EECA KP Fund will also include a Rapid Response element to address emergencies, including the physical safety of people living with HIV. The EECA Key Populations Fund will also develop “Lighthouse” grants that support HIV and hepatitis C care within the public health system.

In the U.S., EJAF will be launching a new funding initiative to address HIV in Black gay men and transgender individuals who are extremely vulnerable to HIV and disproportionately affected by the disease and the stigma that surrounds it. Building on our years of experience and support in fighting AIDS in these communities, the new program will reach an anticipated 5,000 HIV-positive Black gay men and transgender individuals to learn about their HIV status and get linked to health care, social services and treatment.

Another estimated 10,000 will receive HIV prevention services including access to PrEP. One key aspect of this new initiative will be to engage leadership from Black gay and transgender communities to help set priorities and strategies for this funding and to support community mobilization through the funding process as well as through the grants themselves. This will be the largest private funding initiative specifically supporting Black gay and transgender communities in history.

Funding for the new initiatives will include financial contributions from Gilead Sciences, who will also donate hepatitis C products to cure 5,000 patients under the EECA KP Fund.

“The HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, particularly in Russia and Ukraine, remains the fastest growing in the world,” said Anne Aslett, Executive Director of EJAF-UK. “As other donors have withdrawn from the region, EJAF remains committed to supporting people who use drugs, men who have sex with men, and sex workers throughout the region to improve their health and protect their human rights. The EECA KP Fund is the first initiative of its kind. It aims not only to save the lives of thousands of very vulnerable people but to introduce new ways of addressing and scaling up response to the region’s expanding epidemic.”

“Our new funding initiative in the U.S. has the potential to substantially change the course of the HIV epidemic among Black gay men and transgender individuals by supporting the leadership and organizations within those communities,” said Scott Campbell, Executive Director of EJAF-US.

Organisations interested in partnering with the Foundation as part of the EECA KP Fund are advised to monitor http://london.ejaf.org/grants/ for updates. Organisations interested in US opportunities, please monitor http://newyork.ejaf.org/.