Lahore (Muhammad Yasir) Gilead Sciences announced the recipients of its 2019 Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant program, a regional grant initiative that supports community-led programs for people living with HIV in the Asia Pacific region. This was the first time non-governmental or advocacy organizations in Pakistan were invited to submit their applications for funding. Of the 15 submissions received from Pakistan, Naz Male Health Alliance (NAZ) is one of the three recipients selected to receive the grant.

— 3 Pakistani recipients out of 136 submissions received from Community Organizations across the region–

Through this year’s program, Gilead is awarding a total of US$1.4 million to close to 40 projects across Asia Pacific. Of this over US $ 80,000 has been distributed across the three Pakistani recipients.

NAZ has received the grant to further efforts in their project ‘Naz initiative to combat PLHIV stigma & discrimination’ that intends to alleviate the social stigma and to diversify the workplace through more inclusive HR policies for PLHIV. NAZ will develop a docu-drama and a supporting social media campaign. They will engage with corporations and conduct training sessions with their HR departments to sensitize them towards PLHIV and help them develop inclusive HR policies. Finally, they will also focus on engaging with universities to conduct an awareness campaign around the stigma attached to PLHIV.

Commenting on the grant, Dr. Qasim Iqbal (PhD), Executive Director, NAZ Pakistan said, “The stigma and discrimination faced by HIV positive persons in a country like Pakistan is real.  As a gay man living with HIV, I strongly believe that we need to re-strategize the programming to combat HIV related stigma and discrimination because the programming and interventions implemented throughout the globe thus far have not worked. Therefore, we are grateful to Gilead for providing us the resources that will help us make life less stressful for the MSM and TGs living with HIV in Pakistan. We are excited about the potential impact we believe this project will make. With the generous funds from Gilead, we have planned to target the general population, employers and the youth.”

Started in 2018, the Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant program directly supports HIV-related community-led projects. The program is part of Gilead’s broader efforts to enhance public-private partnerships in the Asia Pacific region to address the challenges facing communities affected by HIV.

This year the ‘2019 Gilead Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant’ program is seeking to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV by focusing on three priority areas: 1) access and quality of life; 2) multidisciplinary care; and 3) diversity and inclusion. The Grant aims to accelerate progress on the “Fourth 90”, which complements the “90-90-90” global treatment goals established by UNAIDS to end HIV. These targets set the goal that by 2030, 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 percent of people who know their HIV-positive status will be on treatment, and 90 percent of people on treatment will have a suppressed viral load. The Fourth 90 target aims to ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV achieve a good health-related quality of life[1].

“For people living with HIV, the virus is one among myriad factors that contribute to their total health and well-being,” said Amy Flood, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Gilead Sciences, Inc. “The Asia Pacific Rainbow Grant program recognizes the need for a broader approach to helping people with HIV live well – one that goes beyond HIV suppression – and the central role of community-based organizations in helping to address the diverse challenges that can affect quality of life, including mental well-being and HIV-related discrimination.”

A total of 136 entries were received across the Asia Pacific region during the grant application window.

Gilead has expanded the grants program to 18 countries or territories in the region – nearly doubling the geographic scope from last year’s program. This is the first year Gilead has opened the grant to Pakistan.

[1] Beyond viral suppression of HIV – the new quality of life frontier (2016)