Elton John’s AIDS Foundation and COVID-19 Emergency Fund 

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TACOMA, Washington — The Elton John AIDS Foundation, created in 1992, is one of the leading organizations helping to fight against the disease. In 2003, after Elton John testified against the United States Congress, President Bush created the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which was the largest health fund in U.S. history. Now, the Elton John AIDS Foundation works to reach marginalized communities who don’t have access to proper care and support without discrimination or stigma.

This organization is funded by donors and partners, and in 2019, the organization partnered with Gilead for $25 million in order to provide diagnosis and treatment as well as prevention attempts to marginalized groups in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

COVID-19 Relief Efforts

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the Elton John Foundation announced the COVID-19 emergency fund that is working to provide extra support for vulnerable communities who are facing not only the COVID-19 pandemic but the AIDS epidemic as well.

The COVID-19 emergency fund has only been in action since mid-April but has reached support for 43 organizations fighting against the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and on groups vulnerable to AIDS. The organization also has been working to eliminate the negative stigma around AIDS by raising awareness and attempting to eliminate violence. The Elton John AIDS Foundation’s emergency COVID-19 relief fund partnered with Frontline AIDS, an organization dedicated to address and mitigate the spread of AIDS, to provide emergency grants.

Partnership with Frontline AIDS

The partnership between the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Frontline AIDS will provide funding for 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, focusing on both AIDS relief and emergency support during the COVID-19 pandemic. In many countries, COVID-19 has prevented proper relief and the supply of necessary AIDS/HIV treatment. Reports from UNAIDS and the World Health Organization warn that a six-month period without proper treatment could lead to 500,000 AIDS-related deaths, specifically in Africa, by 2021.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the AIDS epidemic, the CEO of Elton John AIDS Foundation explained the organization’s commitment to supporting vulnerable groups who face the risk of two diseases and will implement new ways of providing care during a globally unprecedented time. Executive Director of Frontline AIDS Christine Stegling explained the extent to which COVID-19 is unevenly affecting marginalized groups with previously existing physical and mental health issues.

The Future of AIDS

Data from two studies in the United Kingdom show that people with HIV have a higher risk of dying from the novel coronavirus. Moreover, another study conducted in Africa found that people with HIV are two to three times higher at risk to die from COVID-19. Other factors that contribute to the potential outcomes of this are poverty and obesity, which are important risks to consider when examining vulnerable communities. The good news amid the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic and the AIDS epidemic are the organizations like the Elton John AIDS Foundation COVID-19 relief and Frontline AIDS that are working to protect and support marginalized groups.

—Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

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