Nine groups fighting HIV in the Southern United States received a total of $485,000 in grants from the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF) in partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).

The latest round of grants arrives from a continued partnership between the two foundations to battle the AIDS epidemic in the South, where the funding is needed most, according to a press release from ETAF, which provided $150,000 in support to the grants.

“Far too many people are denied equal rights and equal access to health care in this country, especially in the Southern U.S. This partnership helps to address the serious inequities that exist in the provision of education, diagnosis and treatment for the people most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS,” said ETAF managing director Joel Goldman in the press release. “Given the current political climate, it is crucial to coordinate responses with partners and collaborate to work smarter and be more efficient.”

“A lack of access to HIV testing and quality health care continues to make the U.S. South an epicenter of the AIDS crisis in our country,” added EJAF chairman David Furnish. “By making these grants, both foundations are committing to continued advocacy and investment in the South—particularly with regard to LGBTQ individuals and Black Americans—until we see meaningful and lasting change in the course of this epidemic.”

According to the press release, the nine grantees include:

  • A Birmingham, Alabama, center providing a safe, supportive and affirming space for LGBTQ youth

  • A Georgia-based advocacy center focused on the impact of HIV/AIDS on young black gay men

  • A Jacksonville, Florida, organization providing young LGBT people with access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

  • A Memphis, Tennessee, program supporting the needs of Black gay families

  • An Atlanta, Georgia–based community organization engaging transgender people of color, the larger LGBTQ community and supportive allies to advocate for the end of policies that criminalize HIV/AIDS

  • LGBT youth programs in Atlanta, Georgia, and Corpus Christi, Texas

  • A symposium for organizations working with Black and Latino gay men in Memphis, Tennessee

  • A Columbia, South Carolina, program designed to help patients adhere to their HIV treatment regimen and achieve undetectable viral suppression

“In the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic began, Elizabeth Taylor was the brightest star in Hollywood, one of the greatest celebrities in the world,” said EJAF founder Elton John in the release. “But she was also willing to get her hands dirty. She stood up for gay people when few others would, and she got right into the nitty-gritty of AIDS policy and fought for the cause, without a moment’s hesitation or thought for her own reputation. Elizabeth was my dear friend, and she remains one of my heroes. I am extremely proud of EJAF’s partnership with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to help carry her great legacy forward.”

For a closer look at the challenges facing Black gay men in the South, read the POZ feature stories “Southern Exposure” and “PrEP: A Dream Deferred.” And for an inspiring look at advocates making a difference in the region, check out “The 2016 POZ 100: Celebrating the South.”