Pfizer Foundation Announces $3M Grant Program To Fight HIV/AIDS Among Minorities in Southern United States
The Pfizer Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the New York-based drug maker, on Wednesday announced a $3 million grant program targeting the "swelling epidemic" of HIV/AIDS among minorities in the southern United States, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Wahlberg, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22). The announcement comes one month after the Southern State AIDS and STD Directors Work Group released the final version of the Southern States Manifesto, titled "HIV/AIDS and STDs in the South: A Call to Action." The report found that HIV/AIDS is "drastically and quickly" spreading across the southern United States, an area that is already is dealing with a "dire shortage" of resources to address the disease. The manifesto outlines barriers to providing and obtaining HIV/AIDS prevention and care services in southern states, many of which have poor health care infrastructures, large populations living in relative poverty and large numbers of uninsured individuals. The manifesto calls on federal, state and local governments to "recognize the disparate impact of HIV and STDs in the South" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 4/25). The Pfizer Foundation Southern HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative will administer $3 million over three years to underserved populations -- specifically targeting African-American and Latino communities -- in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the AIDS prevalence among African Americans is 76.8 reported cases per 100,000 people; 31.4 reported AIDS cases per 100,000 people among Latinos; and 8.1 reported AIDS cases per 100,000 people among whites.
Grants Targeted at Prevention Efforts
As part of the program, the Pfizer Foundation will award grants of $25,000 to $50,000 to each of 10 to 20 community-based prevention programs that have a "demonstrated track record of prevention and service to multicultural communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to HIV/AIDS," according to a Pfizer release (Pfizer release, 5/21). The Pfizer Foundation grants will not provide funding for AIDS care or treatment but will instead go to HIV prevention and education efforts, Pfizer spokesperson Nehl Horton said, the Charlotte Observer reports (Stobbe, Charlotte Observer, 5/22). Pfizer CEO Hank McKinnell said, "Comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention programs focused on communities most at risk are our best defense against this deadly disease" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22). Gene Copello, executive director of Florida AIDS Action and co-author of the Southern States Manifesto, said that this initiative presents a "unique" opportunity to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South (Charlotte Observer, 5/22). Connie Smith, director of social marketing of National AIDS Education & Services for Minorities in Atlanta, said that the grants are "a big boost," adding that HIV/AIDS has "outmeasured any amount of money coming from the government, private groups or pharmaceutical companies, but this is a good start" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5/22).