The Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) has been identified by Funders for LGBTQ Issues as the largest funder of programs for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals throughout the southern United States, according to their recent special report Out in the South.
“We are immensely proud to be recognized by Funders for LGBTQ Issues for our work in the southern United States,” said EJAF founder Sir Elton John. “At the Elton John AIDS Foundation, we see the fight for equality of all LGBTQ people and the effort to achieve a world without AIDS as one and the same, because homophobia is a major driver of the epidemic. Clearly much work remains to be done to make the South a safer and more equitable place for the many LGBTQ Americans who call the region home.”
HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of early death among gay men and transgendered individuals in the American South. Homophobia, especially in rural areas, remains a major obstacle to combating the region’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“The Elton John AIDS Foundation remains committed not only to improving access to care and treatment, but also to ending the stigma that continues to surround and perpetuate HIV/AIDS throughout the world,” said Chairman David Furnish.
According to the Funders report, despite being home to more LGBTQ adults than any other region in the country, the South receives only 3-4 percent of domestic funding for LGBTQ programs. Recent civil rights gains for LGBTQ people have not extended below the Mason-Dixon Line: none of the 14 southern states recognize same-sex marriages or have employment non-discrimination statutes in place. In addition, high rates of tobacco use, substance abuse, and depression among LGBTQ individuals—along with a shortage of non-discriminatory, quality healthcare—receive inadequate attention from the region’s state health programs and healthcare providers.