Following the visit Elton and I made to Atlanta last December, I recently returned with our Chairman David Furnish and Board of Trustees to move plans forward with our partners in the city.
The Foundation’s roots run deep in Atlanta; it is where we began at Elton’s kitchen table in 1992.
Metro Atlanta has the second highest incidence of HIV in the United States and is where more than 37,000 people living with HIV call home. The Positive Health Impact Center is a beacon of light for many Atlantans in this epidemic. It provides a safe place for testing, treatment, counseling and other services supported by the Foundation.
In the picture here you can see a handful of the Center’s thousands of clients telling David and me their stories. One is Queen: a beautiful trans woman who has lived with HIV for over 20 years, and is now a peer support counsellor at the Center and champion for her community. Whilst Queen’s journey has been heartbreaking in many ways, she and the rest of the group spoke of the love and acceptance they have found through Positive Impact; how this has healed the HIV related shame and stigma they have lived with and the ways in which they support one another every day.
The Board and I felt determined and inspired by our visits. On behalf of the Foundation, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chairman of Fulton County to ensure everyone is playing their part in expanding local access to compassionate and culturally-competent services and treatment for people at risk and living with HIV.
Atlanta has an urgent HIV epidemic that reminds us that our work is not done. This World AIDS Day, our Foundation wants you to know that with your support, we won’t leave anyone behind and that we are committed to the vulnerable groups who need us most.
Elton John AIDS Foundation