Atlanta gets $500,000 to battle city’s HIV epidemic

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms earmarked $250,000 in her new budget to fight HIV – more than double the amount from last year – and the money was matched by part-time Atlantan Elton John, who kicked in another $250,000.

The $250,000 is included in the $670 million budget proposed by Bottoms and approved unanimously on Monday by the Atlanta City Council. This is the second time ever the city budgeted funds to combat HIV/AIDS. Bottoms included $100,000 for that purpose in her first budget approved in 2018, which went to creating a PrEP project

The Elton John AIDS Foundation will contribute an additional $250,000, making good on a pledge to match whatever HIV funds Bottoms included in the city budget.

The city will next decide how to spend the $500,000 in HIV funds, according to a Bottoms spokesperson.

“Mayor Bottoms and the administration are working with the Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board – particularly its Health Committee co-chairs – to determine the best use of the $250,000,” Press Secretary Michael Smith told Project Q Atlanta.

“The Bottoms administration is also grateful for the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s one-to-one match of an additional $250,000 to combat HIV/AIDS in Atlanta,” he added.

John and members of his foundation were in Atlanta in December to kick off AIDSfree, an effort by the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to support EJAF funding in Atlanta and five other cities around the world. 

The next Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Board meeting is July 15. Bottoms is expected to attend, according to Board Co-Chair Kirk Rich. The meetings are open to the public.

Bottoms announced the creation of a chief health officer position to bolster the city’s efforts at fighting HIV/AIDS in her State of the City address in March. Smith said Wednesday the position will soon be filled.

The city’s fiscal year 2020 budget takes effect on July 1, 2019.

Metro Atlanta has the third-highest rate of new HIV infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.