COVID-19 has become the defining health crisis of our time. What we knew in March 2020 when COVID-19 made shockwaves across the globe, and which sadly has only been emphasized further with the passage of time, is that this is not just a health crisis. COVID-19 is an unprecedented socio-economic crisis, stressing every one of the countries it touches. It is only exacerbating the already deep-rooted inequalities and health disparities across the globe, with the most vulnerable communities facing the greatest risk. For people living with or at risk of HIV, the pandemic has raised the barriers to health and wellness even further.
In April 2020, we are launched a new COVID-19 Emergency Fund to protect the people we have always sought to serve through HIV care, treatment and prevention, as well as mitigating the damage that COVID-19 can do, particularly to the global gains we are making for more than 37 million people already living with HIV.
In August 2020, we launched this second stream of funding to provide further emergency support for people living with and affected by HIV during the COVID-19 pandemic, this time beyond existing Foundation grantees. The programme leveraged the strengths of Frontline AIDS and the Foundation partnership to ensure funding reached even more of those in the greatest need – including the LGBT community, Sex Workers, people living with HIV and people who use drugs. The geographic reach of the Fund was also extended with 47 countries eligible for support.
In total, over 100 grants have been distributed through both COVID-19 Emergency Funding rounds in over 30 countries. From the first funding round alone, over 68,000 people had been reached through the Fund by the end of 2020. Here at the Foundation, we have been so impressed by innovative solutions our grantees have delivered for their communities across the globe. Their dedication has helped protect the people we have always sought to serve through HIV care, treatment, and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Antoinette is HIV positive and works as a Peer Navigator at SisterLove, a grantee of our COVID-19 Emergency Fund. Restrictions from COVID-19 have not stopped Antionette from continuing her incredible work. She is providing online HIV counselling, supporting her peers step by step with home test kits and conducting online support groups for women living with HIV that focus on exercise, medication adherence, emotional support and creativity.
Adjusting their model to a virtual environment was one of their biggest challenges but one they saw as a positive in helping SisterLove move forward and stay ahead. The work SisterLove has done in response to the pandemic ensures that their clients are able to access resources, stay engaged and continue to feel part of the community through times of isolation.
Dmitry and Nadezhda
Dmitry and Nadezhda both work for Humanitarian Project who is improving HIV prevention, care, and support programs for people most heavily impacted by HIV in the Novosibirsk region of Russia. They’ve developed a model to ensure those who come to them for help can continue to test for HIV in the safety of their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here, they’re preparing home test kits for delivery. When a client receives the package, Humanitarian Project’s experienced team will contact them to conduct the test and offer a full consultation.
Alliance India’s Samarth Project is a community-led programme on HIV screening and treatment linkage for men who have sex with men and the transgender communities. With funding from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Fund, they implemented a short-term plan that would mitigate vulnerability, risk and distress for people at six of their existing sites.
During the initial phase of lockdown, they reached out to the people they knew living with HIV to ensure they had enough HIV medication. For seven people living with HIV who go to the Samarth Hooghly Clinic in West Bengal, treatment supplies were running extremely low and would not last for more than a week as they are in such a remote location.
The team went to the main medication centre to pick up more supplies themselves and delivered it to the seven homes who required more treatment.
“I thought I will not survive but now I feel that I still have a chance to live. Thank you for being with me.” Alliance India client.