LONDON, England — The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) has become one of the most well-known and successful celebrity charities in the world. Elton John honored the memories of his friends by founding an organization that has since raised more than $300 million for HIV related programs and causes in 35 different countries.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 in the United States and 1993 in the United Kingdom by rock musician Elton John after he lost two of his closest friends to HIV. The first, teenager Ryan White, was infected with HIV through a blood transfusion and passed away in 1990. The second was Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. The foundation was created after paying tribute to Mercury in concert and to White at his funeral.
EJAF has three main goals: End discrimination against individuals with HIV, end AIDS-related deaths and end HIV infections. Through fundraising, advocacy and grant-making, the organization has made incredible strides in all three categories. The Foundation believes that “raising funds for evidence-based programs and policies and also by speaking out with honesty and compassion about the realities of people’s lives” is the only way to finally beat AIDS.
Fundraising and Grantmaking
The Elton John AIDS Foundation raises money through small donations through their website and much larger donations at events such as the annual Academy Awards Viewing Party in Hollywood. The 27th Annual Viewing Party, held on February 24, 2019, raised more than $6.3 million towards ending AIDS. Apart from raising the funds, EJAF features a well-developed grant-making program to support smaller charity groups in the fight against AIDS.
The U.S. branch of the Elton John AIDS Foundation invests more than $7 million yearly in grants to community-based organizations and programs in the Americas and the Caribbean. The U.K. organization allocates a similar amount of funding to African, Asian and European organizations. The grant-making program focuses on 6 target areas when dividing funding between grantees.
Target areas include gay men’s mobilization for health, youth mobilization for health, black community mobilization for health and access to healthcare for ex-offenders. They also focus on ending injection-related HIV transmission and scaling up government HIV programming. Organizations that specifically focus on development in one of the target areas can receive funding from EJAF.
Statistics on HIV
Though great progress has been made in reducing HIV/AIDS infections and deaths, the reality of the epidemic indicates that there is a tremendous amount of work still to be done. Data from 2018 found that 37.9 million people globally were HIV positive. Of these numbers, 36.2 million individuals were adults and 1.7 million were children under the age of 15. Only 79 percent of the 36.9 million individuals with HIV were aware of their HIV status.
Though many people continue to live with and contract HIV, the Elton John AIDS Foundation is leading the charge in fundraising, advocacy and education in the fight against AIDS. The Foundation finds support from celebrities, foundations, corporations and individuals around the world. The Elton John AIDS Foundation has contributed tremendously to worldwide efforts to beat AIDS.
– Orly Golub