Changing the Story: Flatlining Philanthropic Funding for HIV in the COVID Era

*This article originally appeared in the June 2021 HIV Specialist Magazine.

Much has changed in the world as a result of COVID-19, but one thing has not: marginalized communities continue to be disproportionately impacted by public health crises. This is a reflection of systemic barriers that have affected these communities—which are also those most affected by HIV—for decades. For LGBTQ, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities in the U.S.—and for key populations[i] globally—the pandemic did not create inequalities and vulnerabilities, but it has certainly deepened them.

Recent reports from Funders Concerned About AIDS  (FCAA) tell an alarming story of deepening disparities. Though the story is not yet over, we are at a critical juncture. When viewed together, these reports can support the course correction needed to get progress back on track. The information is intended to ensure a more hopeful next chapter.

Chapter 1: Stagnating Philanthropic Funding for HIV and AIDS

In early May, FCAA published its 18th annual Philanthropic Support to Address HIV/AIDS report, which showed an increase of $49 million (or 7%) from 2018, for a total of nearly $706 million in 2019. This is the highest level of giving since the organization began tracking HIV-related philanthropy almost 20 years ago. However, that rise was driven almost entirely by a single, $100 million payment from one funder and belies what would have otherwise been an overall decrease in HIV-related philanthropy. 

Over the past several years, the data FCAA collects has shown that philanthropic resources for HIV and AIDS have remained relatively flat. This comes at a time when we can ill-afford stagnation in the response to the epidemic. What’s more, the number of funders is shrinking, with the majority of grants given by just a few grantmakers. This creates a very vulnerable position should the priorities of an ever-smaller number of investors shift.

Read the article in its entirety here, beginning on page 19.

[i] The term “key populations” refers to the following population groups: gay men/men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, transgender people, sex workers, general LGBTQ, and key affected populations not broken down.