Can peer support programs help those living with HIV?

Scott-Walker, now 40, attributes the group’s success to its ability to draw members with a powerful sense of belonging and to maintain an environment where positive messaging about medication adherence unfolds organically. But that environment relies on an administrative and programming style that doesn’t conform to the requirements of most federal grants, which provide billions of dollars’ worth of support to HIV programs worldwide. In fact, Thrive SS’s leadership credits the organization’s success to a conscious decision to forgo federal funding and the requirements it entails, relying instead on foundation and pharmaceutical grants, as well as individual donors.

“An organization doesn’t become worse off, per se, by taking additional funding,” said Ace Robinson, director of strategic partnerships at NMAC, an organization that advocates for racial equity in HIV advocacy and outcomes. But for growing organizations, it can be such a struggle to meet the administrative requirements of some funders that in trying to do so, they compromise their mission, he said.