AIDS Healthcare Foundation Provides Over US$250,000 For COVID Relief In Region

(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is expected to reopen grant applications in early July for NGOs seeking to help their clients from vulnerable populations, including those living with HIV and AIDS, cope with the fallout from COVID-19.

Caribbean Regional Director for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Dr Kevin Harvey reported today that over the last three months the organisation has provided some US$250,000 (J$35 million) towards that end.

“We recognised early that this group would have been particularly affected by the weeks of lockdown that the country went through and also would need the tools to protect themselves from possible infection,” Harvey said.

“Many of the persons we serve try to survive day by day, and depend on food and support from many of our NGOs to facilitate them taking their medications and meeting their basic daily needs. They are therefore extremely vulnerable in any kind of economic fallout,” he added.

Dr Harvey explained that the foundation established an international emergency COVID Response Fund to assist NGOs to better protect and support their staff and clients. This, he said, was in addition to the ongoing support provided on an annual basis to NGOs and governments of the countries we support.

“We were able to quickly allocate funds to various organisations to ensure that they would be in a position to provide for the additional services that would have been necessary for the persons they serve.”

The funds were mainly provided to assist with enhanced cleaning and sanitisation, procuring Personal Protective Equipment and food supplies for those who would have lost their jobs or suffered adversely from the stay-at-home orders.

“We were particularly concerned about persons in lock ups as we have seen around the world and closer home in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where there have been significant outbreaks of COVID-19 including a number of deaths in prisons. We, therefore, extended our grants to NGOs working in the prisons and have provided a total of US$40,000 to assist prisons in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Jamaica,” the AHF regional director said.

Dr Harvey disclosed that The La Victoria Prison in the Dominican Republic received US$10,000, the prison system in Haiti, US$15,000 and the correctional services department in Jamaica, US$15,000. The latter was facilitated through partner NGO, Health Through Walls.

Some of the other organisations in Jamaica that received assistance include the Larry Chang Foundation, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, CHARES Clinic, the Jamaican Network of Seropositives. Regionally, the beneficiary groups include HIV/AIDS Survivors Benefit Foundation, in the Bahamas; the Medical Research Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago; and COIN, MOSCTHA, CEPROSH and Light a Candle Foundation in the Dominican Republic as well as the Ministry of Health in Haiti .

AHF also provided food support, rent assistance and building materials to patients impacted by COVID-19 through its AHF Medical Centre located on Hagley Park Road in Kingston, where it provides free testing and medical care to thousands of STI, HIV-infected and other vulnerable clients.

AHF is the largest NGO worldwide that provides medical care and/or services to individuals infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. It reaches roughly 1.4 million.