According to the Bay Area Reporter, one of the nation's longest-running HIV education and advocacy organizations has terminated its staff and is likely to cease operations.
Project Inform released a statement today, written by former staffers, reading that "[d]espite the continued success and evolution of our work in HIV and hepatitis C virus — two of the most stigmatizing diseases in the United States — we have not been able to successfully navigate the current funding environment."
The paper also points out the now ex-staffers were reluctant to discuss details, but the change seems to have been abrupt. Despite it all, they still seem to be optimistic.
"We are so pleased to have had the chance to work together to contribute to Project Inform's legacy of achievements over the last three decades," David Evans, who’s worked at Project Inform since 1991 and has been the interim executive director since June, told the Bay Area Reporter. "While we all recognize there is much more to be done to end the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics, we remain steadfastly committed to see that work completed.”
Other staffers, like Anne Donnelly who’s led work at the organization for over 30 years, also chimed in.
"We know that Project Inform's accomplishments would not be possible without the extraordinary partners we've had the honor to work with, who've included fellow advocates, educators, providers, volunteers, donors, decision makers and, of course, people living with and at risk for HIV and HCV,” Donnelly stated.
Project Inform was founded in 1984 by Martin Delaney and Joe Brewer, when San Francisco was at the mercy of the AIDS Crisis — and 10 years before antiretrovirals made HIV a chronic manageable condition.
The organization spearheaded issues relating to HIV and brought important matters to the forefront of policy makers and the general public.
As the Bay Area Reporter notes, Project Inform also lobbied for an aggressive program of scientific and medical research, and encouraged regulatory agencies to speed the approval of new medications. It also provided information for people living with HIV/AIDS and HCV before the Internet made a huge difference in how news is disseminated.
"Thirty-five years hence, life with HIV is counted in decades rather than weeks or months and HIV can't be transmitted when viral suppression is achieved," the ex-staffers said in a statement. "As well, people wishing to protect themselves from HIV transmission have an additional powerful tool, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Hepatitis C is curable and people who use drugs may soon have greater access to services that will keep them alive.
"Above all, the millions of pieces of print and electronic publications we've offered people freely, the videos we've disseminated, and the hundreds of thousands of hours spent counseling individuals on the phone or by chat have helped ensure that people know about these facts and can use them to positively impact their own lives and the lives of the people they love or provide care for," the announcement continued.
"When an organization touches so many lives around the globe for so many years, it is impossible to assess its legacy. We trust, however, that Project Inform's legacy will resound for years to come and influence our own work and that of countless others who have dedicated so much and continue to do so."