NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Groups working to battle AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean are the first winners of grants established by singer Elton John to end discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the singer said.

The International HIV/AIDS Alliance and the Global Forum on MSM & HIV work in nations with high rates of HIV, John said at a conference on AIDS in Durban, South Africa.

"We're going to help all the LGBT people in countries that find it very difficult to be LGBT to know that we are on their side," said John, who is openly gay.

"What I can do is ensure that people who are LGBT, if the clinics are closed down because they're LGBT, we can give them medicine," he said.

He did not specify how much money the two groups would receive. The Global Forum is a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California, and the Alliance is based in the United Kingdom.

The $10 million LGBT Fund was launched in November by the Elton John Aids Foundation and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to the U.S. State Department.

The grants are intended to help community organizations expand efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and efforts to treat people with HIV and AIDS.

South Africa has the largest HIV/AIDS treatment program in the world, with 3.4 million people taking antiretroviral drugs.

Most African nations have laws that make being gay a crime, and some have laws punishing LGBT advocacy as well, according to research by the European Parliament.

"I know that certain governments in Africa will not respond to someone like me telling them 'You should do this, you should do that,'" John said at the news conference, held on Wednesday.

Violence against LGBT people is common in much of Africa, but victims fear reporting hate crimes to the police who often refuse to pursue their cases, advocates say.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit