According to the CDC, HIV disproportionately affects black populations in the U.S. at a rate of 8 times that of white populations. Gay and bisexual men account for the most new infections among black populations in the U.S. Relief efforts have addressed the healthcare gaps and social issues that contribute to the disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS in black communities. But the continuing rise in new HIV cases and the growing rate of healthcare disparities show that that these efforts are progressing rather slowly, particularly among black MSM populations. (MSM stands for men who have sex with men.)
ViiV healthcare is pushing back on the rising tide of HIV cases among MSM populations with a four year, $10 million investment in the new ACCELERATE! Initiative. The initiative is set to launch in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi—two US cities that are among those with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS among the black MSM population. ViiV has consulted and partnered with local community leaders, state and local health officials as well as healthcare professionals and academic researchers and leaders on the initiative.
The ACCELERATE! initiative will start with a bit of ethnographic research which will pinpoint gaps, challenges, and priorities in HIV/AIDS healthcare among black MSM populations. Once that phase is complete, it will work on reducing the number of new HIV/AIDS cases among MSM and strengthening systems that support related HIV/AIDS reduction work in local communities. ViiV focuses its giving pretty exclusively on supporting this type of work, which makes sense, seeing as how it is among the top companies in the world working on HIV/AIDS research and development.
The company was formed back in 2009, when GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer jettisoned their HIV assets. ViiV is pretty big, with local offices in 16 countries, which are the primary areas of focus when it comes to its HIV/AIDS giving. Globally, the company pays a lot of attention to the Positive Action for Children Fund, which aims to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
ViiV awards a pretty decent number of smaller, local grants out of its positive action community grants program, which, in the past, has provided funding to local programs like the DUDES’ Club in Vancouver and the Beats for Life Campaign in Germany. Although the company awards these smaller community grant, ViiV does seems to favor the bigger programs like the PACF and the ACCELERATE! initiative.
On a side note, GSK is toying with the idea of taking ViiV public sometime this year. What makes this an interesting tidbit is the company’s projected £12 billion to £18 billion valuation should GSK go forward with the IPO. Which could possibly mean a big bump in ViiV’s HIV/AIDS funding after the IPO dust settles.