December 01, 2020

ABA announces HIV Legal Services Fund grantees

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2020 — Nine grantees have been selected for funding through the HIV Legal Services Fund. Making the announcement on World AIDS Day is the  HIV/AIDS Impact Project (formerly the AIDS Coordinating Committee), which is part of the Health & Human Rights Initiative run jointly by the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights and Civil Rights and Social Justice Section.

The HIV/AIDS Impact Project established the fund after it was named the recipient of a cy pres award to disburse approximately $1.2 million in unclaimed funds from the 2017 settlement agreement in Beckett v. Aetna, a class-action lawsuit in which policyholders taking HIV medications for treatment or prevention alleged privacy infringement by the Aetna insurance company.

The Project issued a request for proposals for grants from the fund of up to $150,000 each to enhance the availability of HIV legal services in underserved U.S. areas.       

The grant recipients are: 

  • AIDS Legal Referral Panel (San Francisco)
  • Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy (North Carolina)
  • CrescentCare of Louisiana
  • Equality Ohio
  • JRI Health (Justice Resource Institute) (Needham, Massachusetts)
  • Legal Council for Health Justice (Chicago)
  • Legal Services of Alabama
  • Manhattan Legal Services (New York City)
  • Nevada Legal Services

“The HIV/AIDS Impact Project was honored to have been entrusted by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to disburse the Beckett v. Aetna cy pres funds to HIV legal services providers in the United States, all of which do tremendous work with minimal resources,” said Margaret Drew, chair of the Project and associate professor of law at the University of Massachusetts. “The HIV Legal Services Fund established by the Project for this purpose received more than two dozen proposals, all of them impressive, and we wrestled mightily to arrive at a final roster of grantees. The ones selected represent regional and other measures of diversity in reaching underserved populations with HIV legal services and policy advocacy.”

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo said: “I’m proud of the hard work of the HIV/AIDS Impact Project in selecting these superb organizations for funding, and I echo Professor Drew’s appreciation to the district court for this important opportunity.” She added, “Since 1987, when the ABA established the AIDS Coordinating Committee (now the Project) to identify, analyze and address legal issues bearing on the HIV/AIDS pandemic, it has been doing vital work to support HIV legal services providers and policy advocates at home and abroad. The HIV Legal Services Fund is but another manifestation of that longstanding commitment.”           

Co-lead class counsel in Beckett v. Aetna are the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania; the Legal Action Center; and Berger Montague PC. Plaintiffs’ counsel.  (Beckett v. Aetna, Inc., No. 2:17-cv-03864-JS (E.D. Pa.))

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.