WASHINGTON - September 8 - The newly formed Syringe Access Fund has announced its first round of grants, totaling just under $1 million. In an effort to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis C, $950,000 has been granted to 20 organizations in five targeted states and Washington, D.C. These grants provide multi-year support for syringe exchange programs and policy activities in California, the District of Columbia, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Texas.
The Syringe Access Fund is a collaborative grantmaking partnership between The Levi Strauss Foundation, Tides Foundation and National AIDS Fund. The Syringe Access Fund is focused on expanding access to clean syringes via syringe exchange programs (SEPs); state-level education programs focusing on policy change; and increasing the collaboration and capacity among SEPs across the country.
Efforts to expand access to sterile syringes have been endorsed by a broad cross-section of mainstream public health, scientific, legal and medical institutions. Among these institutions are the American Medical Association, American Bar Association, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, American Public Health Association and the American Pharmaceutical Association. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cost of exchanging a clean syringe is less than 10 cents, significantly less than the estimated $190,000 lifetime cost that is needed to treat a person infected with HIV.
"The United States Department of Health and Human Services issued analyses of peer-reviewed studies in 1998 and 2000. Those studies concluded that syringe availability programs 'are an effective public health intervention that reduces the transmission of HIV and Hepatitis C and does not encourage the use of illegal drugs,'" says the National AIDS Fund's President & CEO, Kandy Ferree. "In fact, syringe access programs are often the gateway for getting hard-to-reach individuals into HIV testing and treatment services."
Mary Lou Moreno of the Border AIDS Partnership in El Paso, Texas, said that their grant from the Syringe Access Fund would help them expand access to clean syringes in West Texas along the U.S.-Mexico Border. "Intravenous drug users living on the border are at a greater risk to HIV infection due to specific contextual factors - different economic, social and cultural systems," said Moreno. "These factors have to be taken into consideration in any HIV prevention effort."
"Although syringe exchange has proven to be the most effective form of HIV prevention for injection drug users available there still remain many barriers - mostly political and ideological," said Allan Clear, Executive Director of the Harm Reduction Coalition in New York, another fund grantee. "New York State leads the country in supporting syringe exchange programs but there is still much work to be done."
"The Syringe Access Fund recognizes that clean needles save lives. The Fund also recognizes that programs that distribute syringes are at different stages of development in different states. The Syringe Access Fund is supporting a diverse array of organizations including mature, vital syringe exchange efforts under way in California and New York, as well as newer initiatives in other parts of the country," said Stuart Burden, U.S. Program Director for the Levi Strauss Foundation.
"There is some fantastic work already being done in this area," said Michelle Coffey, Senior Philanthropic Advisor at Tides Foundation. "For example, the Tarzana Treatment Center provides needle exchange in diverse communities of color in Los Angeles County. And Prevention Works is the only exchange program in Washington, D.C., a community with the highest AIDS incidence rate of any major city in the United States, and where 40 percent of HIV transmissions are linked to injection drug use. Our goal is to make sure this work continues and reaches as many people as possible."
Almost half of the total grants, 42 percent, were directed towards policy change and advocacy work. More than half of the applications were from California. The geographic breakdown of the grants is: CA: $445,000 (46.8%); DC: $120,000 (12.6%); FL: $70,000 (7.4%); NJ: $40,000 (4.2%); NY: $150,000 (15.8%); TX: $125,000 (13.2%).
The Levi Strauss Foundation was established in 1952 to provide grants to community-based organizations working to create meaningful social change in communities. The Foundation funds programs worldwide where Levi Strauss & Co. has a business presence. In 1985, the Foundation became one of the first corporate foundations to address the AIDS epidemic and has given more than $25 million in grants since that time to fund AIDS education, service and prevention programs.
Since 1976, Tides Foundation has partnered with donors and institutions by offering donor-advised funds, philanthropic advice and management services for progressive social change philanthropy. Tides is committed to strengthening community-based nonprofit organizations and the progressive movement through national and global philanthropy -- creating a positive impact on people's lives in ways that honor and promote human rights, economic justice and a healthy, sustainable environment.
The National AIDS Fund is one of America's largest philanthropic organizations dedicated to eliminating HIV/AIDS as a major health and social problem. Through a network of 29 community partners, the National AIDS Fund provides grants and other support to over 400 grassroots organizations annually, principally for prevention efforts. Together with its community partners, the Fund has raised and allocated over $118 million since 1988 for the fight against HIV/AIDS in America. The National AIDS Fund's financial contribution to the Syringe Access Fund has been generously supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
For more information or a complete list of grantees, please visit www.tidesfoundation.com. Please direct any questions about the Fund to firstname.lastname@example.org.