Syringe Access Fund Awards $2.4 Million to Syringe Service Programs as an HIV and Viral Hepatitis Prevention Effort

Thursday, February 1, 2018 AIDS/HIV News
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This latest round of funding comes at a critical time, as the nation struggles to address the opioid epidemic and disease outbreaks resulting from injection drug use.

NEW YORK, Feb. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The Syringe Access Fund today announced nearly $2.4 million

in grants awarded to 62 organizations that are driving efforts to prevent HIV and viral hepatitis by providing injection drug users with access to sterile injection equipment and related health messaging. The funding will support syringe service programs and advocacy efforts to increase access to these programs in 32 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands through 2020, many of which serve the very same communities impacted by increased injection drug use stemming from the opioid epidemic that currently rages across the country.

"Injection drug use has always been a primary mode of transmission for both HIV and viral hepatitis, and the sharing of needles continues to result in thousands of new HIV transmissions each year," said Elton John, Founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation. "In light of recent HIV outbreaks linked to injection drug use, which threaten to curb the progress we've made toward ending HIV, this is a critical time to continue resourcing programs that provide clean needles and other equipment to injection drug users, because these programs are proven to help prevent the spread of the disease."

For nearly fifteen years, the Syringe Access Fund has been supporting effective programs that promote the health, safety, and well-being of people who inject drugs, with the goal of reducing HIV and other bloodborne infections. Funding for the Syringe Access Fund is provided by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, and the H. van Ameringen Foundation, and is administered by AIDS United. For this latest round of grantmaking, EJAF provided $2 million in support to the fund because mitigating the spread of HIV/AIDS through intravenous drug use remains a priority for the Foundation. To date, the Syringe Access Fund has distributed over $20 million through 409 grants to 177 organizations in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands that serve vulnerable populations including people of color, rural communities, and the LGBT community. Consequently, grantees were able to distribute more than 66 million syringes to more than 350,000 clients.

"Access to sterile syringes is a proven public health tool to prevent the transmission of HIV and HCV," said Jesse Milan Jr., president and CEO of AIDS United. "Despite longstanding, clear scientific evidence, the federal government continues to hedge its support for syringe services by prohibiting the use of federal dollars to procure sterile syringes themselves.  And, too many state and local authorities continue to oppose these programs, even as their residents' need for them grows. The Syringe Access Fund was designed to step in where government refuses to act. With the opioid epidemic raging, the Syringe Access Fund is needed now more than ever."  

"Funding through the Syringe Access Fund is critical to increase access to life-saving tools and services for people who use drugs," said Dr. Hansel Tookes, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, a Syringe Access Fund grantee. "The Syringe Access Fund helped us legalize syringe services in Miami. With continued support from the Fund of our advocacy efforts, Florida is on the brink of allowing syringe services statewide, which could be a turning point for the entire South."

A complete list of all 62 grants is posted at


At the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), we believe AIDS can be beaten.  We act on that belief by raising funds for evidence-based programs and policies and also by speaking out with honesty and compassion about the realities of people's lives.  Sir Elton John created EJAF 25 years ago, first in the United States in 1992 and then in the United Kingdom in 1993.  Through the generous support of far-sighted individuals, foundations, and corporations, the two foundations together have raised more than $400 million over the past quarter century to challenge discrimination against people affected by the epidemic, prevent infections, provide treatment and services, and motivate governments to end AIDS.  The U.S. foundation focuses its efforts on programs in the United States, the Americas, and the Caribbean, while the U.K. foundation funds HIV-related work in Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Join us in speaking out, taking action, and contributing to our efforts to achieve a world without AIDS.  For more information please visit

American Airlines is the official sponsoring airline of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

About AIDS United

AIDS United's mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the U.S. through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS-related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $104 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $117 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy.

Lauren Diamond


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SOURCE Syringe Access Fund

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