As of 2016, more than 36 million people worldwide are living with HIV or AIDS. Though the incidence rate of HIV and AIDS has been decreasing since the late 1990s, UNAIDS’s goal of achieving an AIDS-free generation is still far off. These five organizations fighting HIV and AIDS are contributing to the success of HIV and AIDS prevention as well as helping to provide antiretroviral therapy (ART) and counseling for those affected.
Elton John AIDS Foundation
In the midst of the rapidly growing AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ’90s, singer-songwriter Elton John founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) to provide much-needed financial support in the fight against HIV and AIDS. John believes he is lucky to have avoided the AIDS epidemic as a gay man who partook in extremely risky behavior in the 1980s, including drug abuse. “I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury,” he said at the International AIDS Conference in 2012. “Every day I wonder, how did I survive?”
The EJAF aims to dismantle the stigma surrounding those with HIV and AIDS as well as provide financial support for HIV prevention and treatment around the world. The EJAF has two branches—one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.—and has been rated a four-star charity, the highest rating a nonprofit can achieve.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Named the richest man in America for 24 years in a row, Bill Gates has been extremely philanthropic with his wealth. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has donated more than $41 billion since it was created. A large portion of those donations—approximately $4.6 billion—have gone toward global health initiatives, including HIV prevention and treatment. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funneled money into improving the diagnosis and treatment of HIV, as well as toward the continued research involved in creating a vaccine to prevent HIV. It is one of the most well-known organizations fighting HIV and AIDS.
The Global Fund
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is a recipient of grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Those funds have been put toward providing ART to more than 11 million people and preventing the transmission of HIV through the womb from mother to child. Over four million HIV-positive women have received treatment to protect their babies during and after pregnancy.
The Global Fund also fights the stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS and provides diverse prevention efforts in order to include children and women. These efforts continue to encourage people to seek preventative measures and treatment rather than avoiding it due to stigma.
Treatment Action Campaign
Africa has the highest burden of HIV and AIDS worldwide. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), founded in 1998, focuses on South Africa and the prevention and treatment methods being employed there. UNAIDS director Dr. Peter Piot considers TAC to be “the smartest activist group of all, worldwide.”
TAC monitors hospitals, trains campaign members on the basic science of HIV and AIDS, and advocates for the right to access healthcare.
amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research
Created during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1985, amfAR has been a leader in AIDS research. Because of the homophobia surrounding HIV and AIDS in the ’80s, many organizations were unwilling to speak out in support of AIDS research. amfAR was established in order to raise private funds for AIDS research, educate the public and support those suffering from HIV and AIDS.
amfAR ultimately kickstarted research that led to the creation of ART. amfAR has also supported HIV prevention methods such as safe needle exchange and safe sex provisions.
Though the HIV and AIDS epidemic is far from over, these organizations fighting HIV and AIDS, as well as many others, are contributing to the health of current and future generations.
– Anna Sheps