As case counts surge around the world, ViiV Healthcare has unveiled its monkeypox emergency response fund.
The Positive Action Monkeypox Emergency Response Fund will make $500,000 in grants available to community-based organizations that serve people living with HIV.
Community-based groups will be able to apply for grants through an RFP process that asks them to demonstrate a focus on promoting education, disease prevention, patient support, testing and screenings.
ViiV, which specializes in HIV treatments, is acutely aware of the disproportionate impact the monkeypox outbreak has had on vulnerable patient populations — specifically the LGBTQIA+ community.
As of this week, the number of monkeypox cases in the U.S. have topped 10,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Audrey Abernathy, VP and head of U.S. communications and external affairs at ViiV, said the creation of the fund is part of an effort to accelerate the marshaling of resources during yet another public health crisis.
“These community-based organizations are playing such a critical role in responding to public health emergencies and pandemics. They’re the frontline grassroots groups that make a difference and support individuals,” she said. “Clearly, when you start to see an outbreak, like monkeypox, there are a number of things that need to be done. But with the misinformation going around, we feel it’s critical for the community-based organizations to have additional support so that they can do what they do best.”
Abernathy noted that in addition to the risk of contracting monkeypox, members of the LGBTQIA+ community also face stigmatization as a result of infection. That’s why ViiV’s goal is to support individuals faced with several obstacles to care. The company also hopes to overcome mistrust of medical institutions in some patient populations and change the trajectory of the outbreak.
ViiV is one of several pharma companies that has taken steps to combat the monkeypox outbreak by involving community partners. Earlier this week, Gilead Sciences announced it would work with LGBTQIA+ organizations and pledged $5 million in global grant funding.
Whether it’s monkeypox, HIV or COVID-19, pharma companies and other key industry stakeholders need to be at the table to break down barriers to care, Abernathy stressed.
“It takes partnerships and multiple people at the table. These are complex challenges and not something, broadly speaking, that is going to change overnight. The more people that are focused on these issues, the better,” she added.