Community Foundation and Partners Spotlight Continued Fight against HIV/AIDS in Atlanta
Tuesday, December 4th, 2018
Georgia leads the nation in new infections of HIV/AIDS and Atlanta is in the top five of cities in the U.S. for new infections, at a time when many communities are seeing declines in new diagnoses.
This stark reality was the focus as experts in the local response to this crisis gathered for an impactful, and often emotional, dialog led by those on the front lines of the challenge. Part-time Atlanta resident, Sir Elton John, and representatives from the Elton John AIDS Foundation were on hand to hear the latest data and impact about HIV/AIDS in our region as part of the launch of AIDSfree, an appeal that will support Elton John AIDS Foundation funding in six cities globally, including Atlanta.
Participants included a patient living with HIV, medical personnel and leaders of nonprofits and funders focused on the issue. The event, held in connection with World AIDS day and hosted by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Grady Health Foundation, Grady Health System and the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, took place at Grady’s Ponce De Leon Center. Sandra Thurman, the chief strategy officer in the U.S. State Department's Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, facilitated the discussion.
Sir Elton John spoke with passion that it’s heartbreaking to see the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic today in Atlanta, comparing it to the early days of the disease when people were stigmatized and often shunned from their families and society at large. He committed his full support, and that of his Foundation, to be a loud and persistent voice to ensure people aren’t left behind in this fight.
New cases of HIV/AIDS in this region are largely concentrated within the young, African American male population. According to AIDSVu¹, there are approximately 35,400 people currently living with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta. Of those, 80.2 percent are male and 19.8 percent female. More than 70 percent are African American, nearly seven percent are Hispanic and more than 18 percent are white. The rate of black males living with an HIV diagnosis is 4.8 times that of white males.
“The energy and raw emotion in the room during this dialog was palpable, and so was the clear call to action that we must all stay committed to this fight,” said Alicia Philipp, president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and one of the presenters during the discussion. “It’s critical to keep awareness of HIV/AIDS in the forefront for funding, especially from the philanthropic community. We must be sure that people in this vulnerable population still being infected have knowledge and access to quality care and support. I commend Sir Elton John for lending his voice and his influence in such a public way. We need others with that level of influence here in the Atlanta community to have the same courage to step up and be the face and voice of change.”
The Community Foundation has been involved in the response to this health crisis from the early days of the disease’s impact in Atlanta, when the disease was still known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Disease). The Foundation made its first related grant in 1982 and the Atlanta AIDS Fund was created in 1991 to support metro Atlanta’s HIV/AIDS advocacy, prevention education and service efforts through funding and leadership. To date, through the Atlanta AIDS Fund and through donor-advised fund grants from Foundation donors, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $15 million in grants toward nonprofits that provide HIV/AIDS-related services.
Significant funding and impact milestones for the Atlanta AIDS Fund include:
In 1988, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta was selected as one of the first partners in a Ford Foundation initiative, the National Community Aids Partnership (NCAP). As a result, the Atlanta AIDS Fund was established to make grants for preventative education and direct care in the metro Atlanta area. NCAP made a matching commitment of up to $500,000 with local charitable dollars. By 1990, the Community Foundation had raised enough to secure the match from NCAP.
In 1990, the Community Foundation and United Way of Metro Atlanta agreed to collaboratively administer the Atlanta AIDS Fund.
Since 2004, the Atlanta AIDS Fund has been a beneficiary of Jeffrey Fashion Cares, an annual fundraiser founded by fashion retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, featuring a curated fashion show and auction. In 2017, Jeffrey Fashion Cares awarded $300,000 to Atlanta AIDS Fund.
Between 2008 and 2014 the Elton John AIDS Foundation awarded multiple grants to the Atlanta AIDS Fund, totaling more than $228,000, to support organizations in the region that provide care and outreach.
Recent grant recipients related to HIV/AIDS in our region include:
Atlanta Harm Reduction Coalition
Grady Health System
HIV/AIDS Empowerment Resource Center for Young Women
Open Hand Atlanta
Positive Impact Health Centers
St Joseph’s Mercy Care Services