The Elton John AIDS Foundation will renew its financial support for building access to HIV-health services through a program based out of the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
In an award letter to UMMC officials, the foundation stated one of its driving reasons for allocating additional funds to the area was based on the alarmingly high rates of HIV diagnoses in Mississippi and lack of education on the topic.
The foundation informed Dr. Leandro Mena, associate professor of medicine in UMMC’s Division of Infectious Diseases, of its decision to fund his work with young African-American males. The grant award marks the second consecutive year Mena has won support for his vision of eliminating HIV in Mississippi.
“Young African-American men who have sex with men are one of the most disproportionate groups impacted by HIV in the United States,” said Mena, who also serves as the director of the Center for HIV/AIDS Research Education and Policy at the Myrlie Evers-Williams Institute for the Elimination of Health Disparities.
Additionally African-American men age 14-24 in Mississippi experienced the largest increase from 2006-2011 when compared with any other group, he added.
The $60,000 in grant funds will go toward improving access to culturally and clinically competent health services across the state, specifically toward HIV-preventive services for Mississippians who are most at risk, said Mena.