Gilead Sciences has announced a ten-year, $100 million commitment in support of organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Southern states.
Through the COMPASS (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States) Initiative, the biopharmaceutical company will partner with the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, and the Southern AIDS Coalition to identify grantees, with a focus on providing support for capacity building and knowledge sharing; well-being, mental health, and trauma-informed care; and awareness, education, and anti-stigma campaigns.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states in the South are home to 38 percent of the population but accounted for 45 percent of people living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States in 2016 and 47 percent of those who died of HIV/AIDS in 2013. HIV/AIDS disproportionately affects Latinos, transgender women, African-American women, and African-American gay and bisexual men, due in part to stigma, poverty, lack of access to health care, and racial inequities.
"Limited access to health care and information about life-saving advances in HIV treatment and prevention in the most vulnerable communities creates an environment where we, as a society, have the tools in hand to improve lives, but these resources are not being fully utilized to address the epidemic," said Charlene Flash, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Baylor College of Medicine. "We must take action and apply these resources to overcome this challenge as too many vulnerable people in the South cannot access, or worse still, are unaware of the existing life-saving tools to prevent and treat HIV."
(Photo credit: Gilead Sciences)