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ACRIA Receives Major 5-Year Grant to Support Sexual Health Education for NYC Youth

Tuesday Apr 18, 2017

ACRIA, a New York City-based national organization renowned for its research, education and advocacy programs and expertise on HIV and aging, announced that it is the recipient of a five-year grant, totaling $500,000, from the Keith Haring Foundation. The grant will support its sexual health education and leadership development programs benefitting youth in New York City.

The grant, which will provide funding through 2021, allows ACRIA to enhance its HIV and teen pregnancy prevention programs offered to youth, their parents, and other youth allies in schools and community settings located in neighborhoods heavily impacted by HIV across the New York City metropolitan area.

"We are honored to once again partner with the Keith Haring Foundation to further our shared goal of addressing the critical need for comprehensive, age-appropriate, and culturally competent sexual health education for young people across the five boroughs," said Benjamin Bashein, Executive Director of ACRIA. "For nearly a decade, the Foundation has played a major role in strengthening ACRIA's life-saving AIDS research and education programs. On behalf of our board of directors, I thank them. We are enormously grateful to be taking this next step forward with their support."

"Chief among Keith Haring's stated goals in establishing his foundation was providing financial support to the HIV/AIDS community. We are privileged to work with ACRIA, an organization profoundly committed to improving the lives of those affected by AIDS and HIV. It is our honor to help sustain and expand their long-standing youth education and leadership development programs," said Julia Gruen, Executive Director of the Keith Haring Foundation.

New York City's HIV epidemic continues to take a heavy toll on young people. Compared to their peers, Black and Hispanic youth continue to experience disproportionately high rates of HIV infections. In April 2015, the New York State Department of Health released data indicating that together, Black and Hispanic youth in New York City, ages 12 to 24, account for 85 percent of new HIV diagnoses and 91 percent of new AIDS diagnoses.

ACRIA's targeted work in communities of color across the five boroughs, along with its strategic partnerships with the NYC Department of Health, the NYC Department of Education, and over 700 schools and community groups, has given the organization unique insight into the sexual and reproductive health and HIV prevention needs of underserved and under-resourced communities, especially among their youth.

Through the organization's Love Heals Youth Education Program, well over 700,000 youth and thousands of their parents, teachers, community leaders, and other youth allies have been reached through expert-facilitated training and presentations.

Founded in 1991, ACRIA has been a pioneer in HIV education and research, working closely with communities most affected by the virus. Founded by a grassroots coalition of scientists, physicians, activists, artists, and HIV-positive people, ACRIA addressed the severe lack of information and research on HIV during the early days of the epidemic. The organization empowered communities to advocate for themselves and demand that the government, and major research institutions, make HIV a high priority.

Thanks to ACRIA's work, the latest medications and treatments for HIV/AIDS were made available to those most in need of them. Over twenty-five years later, and having helped bring more than 20 HIV medications to market, ACRIA's mission has grown to include HIV education for people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as their caregivers; HIV prevention and quality comprehensive sexuality health education for young people; and groundbreaking research that has helped us better understand the lives and service needs of older adults living with HIV.

Additionally, ACRIA offers critical HIV-related training and capacity building services to health and human services professionals, as well as to those with and at risk for HIV, through its Training Center.

Established in 1989 by the late artist Keith Haring (1958-1990), the Keith Haring Foundation supports US-based non-profit organizations that provide educational opportunities to underserved youth as well as to organizations that engage in education, prevention and care related to AIDS and HIV.

Haring additionally charged his Foundation with maintaining and protecting his artistic legacy. The Foundation maintains an extensive collection of his art, along with archives that facilitate historical research about the artist and the times and places in which he lived and worked.

The Foundation supports arts and educational institutions by funding programs and publications that serve to contextualize and illuminate the artist's work and philosophy. During the last years of his life, Haring often enlisted his imagery to speak about his own illness and to generate activism and awareness about AIDS. To date, his Foundation has given over $15 million in grants.

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