WASHINGTON, D.C. — The AIDS United Southern Regional Expansion of Access and Capacity to Address HIV/AIDS Initiative has awarded 11 Carolina organizations with critical, innovative, advocacy project funding to advance the rights, health and dignity of people affected by HIV/AIDS. Support came from the Ford Foundation which has done so for the last 10 years.

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LGSP), Charlotte, N.C., North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN), Raleigh, N.C., North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Inc. (NCHRC), Raleigh, N.C., South Carolina HIV Task Force (SCHTF), Columbia, S.C., and Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP) are the 2016 grantees. They were among 21 organizations across nine states in the Deep South who will share $1.4 million and are heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS. All were selected out of a highly competitive pool of applicants and have demonstrated their ability to make significant change in their communities. Grantees are focused on important issues such as voter mobilization, expanding legal services in the area of housing and employment discrimination and combatting unjust HIV criminalization laws, the organization said.

Previous grantees have been: North Carolina — Duke Health Justice Clinic-Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI), Durham, N.C., El Centro Hispano, Inc., Durham, N.C., and South Carolina — Careteam Inc., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Catawba Care (now known as Affinity Health Center), Rock Hill, S.C., South Carolina HIV Council, Columbia, S.C., and The ACCESS Network, Ridgeland, S.C.

The South nets almost half of all new HIV diagnoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report at the end of December which stated that death rates among people living with HIV in the South are three times higher than those in other parts of the country. These statistics are fueled by inequality related to poverty, stigma, racism and homophobia, and further compounded by the near universal refusal to expand Medicaid throughout the region.

“I am inspired by the work of the Southern REACH grantees addressing HIV/AIDS in the Deep South,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “We are proud to support the individuals and organizations working to disrupt inequality, especially in the American South, where systemic injustice, discrimination and harmful laws and prejudicial policies are still far too pervasive.”

“The HIV epidemic and its associated disparities will continue to rage on until we harness the political will needed to challenge and then change the policies that fuel it. And that’s exactly what Southern REACH grantees are doing,” said AIDS United President & CEO Michael Kaplan. “We are so thankful for the Ford Foundation’s leadership and unparalleled support for ending the HIV epidemic and promoting human dignity throughout the region.”

info: aidsunited.org.

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Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.