Taxpayers will fund $50 million in grants aimed at preventing and testing for HIV in young gay men and transgender people of color.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the grants — $10 million per year for five years — will raise awareness of HIV risks, offer prevention strategies and provide free condoms to black and Hispanic gay and transgender men, according an announcement posted on the federal site grants.gov.
Among the prevention measures, the grant requires condoms be given out free of charge. “Free and accessible condoms are an integral component of an HIV prevention program,” the grant says. Grant awardees must also market the free condoms and advocate for condom use on social media and in the community.
The grant, which defines “young men” as males between 13 and 29, offers funding for organizations targeting one of two groups: “Young men of color who have sex with men” or “young transgender persons of color.” The programs must target both HIV-positive people and those at risk of getting HIV.
Among blacks and Hispanics between the ages of 13 and 24, the number of HIV cases has increased about 87 percent over the past decade, the CDC said. In 2014, there were 5,530 HIV diagnoses among blacks Hispanics in that age group, compared to 2,950 in 2015.
Non-profits, schools and community organizations are eligible to receive money for up to five years if they commit to provide testing, education and prevention methods to “subpopulations of persons at higher risk” of contracting HIV infections. As HIV is carried in the blood, the CDC also suggests the funding include educating and preventing HIV in “people who inject drugs.”
While blacks and Hispanics represent a small percentage of the U.S. population, they “accounted for 49.4 percent and 18.4 percent respectively of persons with diagnosed HIV infection in 2014,” according to the grant. Additionally, the CDC notes that “men who have sex with men” make up around 2 percent of the U.S. population, “but accounted for nearly 67 percent of all persons with HIV diagnosed in 2014.” (RELATED: CDC: Southerners’ ‘Racism’ And ‘Homophobia’ Cause Gay Men’s High HIV Rates)
“Condom use is one of the most effective methods to reduce risk of HIV infection during sexual activity,” the CDC said in a 2015 report. “Correct and consistent use of male condoms is estimated to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 70-80 percent.”
Organizations have until Sept. 14, 2016, to apply for the grant. The CDC expects each grant will be around $350,000 per organization.
The CDC spends around $787 million each year on HIV/AIDS prevention and research, according to the federal site AIDS.gov. In total, the federal government has requested $34 billion in funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and research in the 2017 budget.