Gilead Sciences announced its COMPASS (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in Southern States) Initiative, an unprecedented $100 million commitment over 10 years to support organizations working to end the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States. Through the initiative, Gilead is partnering with three coordinating centers to strategically provide funding across the region. The Southern AIDS Coalition (SAC) has been selected as a coordinating center.
“The South needs this initiative now more than ever,” said Nic Carlisle, SAC executive director. “Widening health disparities and inequities threaten the lives of our people and impede progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in this country.” Year after year, more people are diagnosed with HIV in the South than the rest of the country combined. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the rate of new HIV diagnoses for the South was 37% higher than the national average in 2015. The South is home to the most people living with and dying from HIV/AIDS, including the most women, youth, and people of color. “This investment from Gilead will make a significant difference for the region,” said Carlisle.
The SAC coordinating center will work in close partnership with the Southern HIV/AIDS Strategy Initiative (SASI) and the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR) at Duke University. “We at Duke University are thrilled to partner with SAC on the Gilead COMPASS Initiative,” said Carolyn McAllaster, SASI director. “Gilead’s investment is a game-changer in fighting the HIV epidemic in our region.”
As a coordinating center, SAC and its partners at Duke University will develop and support education and advocacy efforts to address HIV-related stigma, discrimination, and health inequities across the South. According to Susan Reif, CHPIR research scholar, “our research has identified pervasive HIV-related stigma in the Deep South that significantly contributes to HIV transmission and poor health outcomes among individuals living with HIV. Through the COMPASS Initiative, we will further the science in how to effectively reduce HIV-related stigma and address and abate stigma at the individual, organizational, and community levels.”
(Original source: https://southernaidscoalition.org/gilead-sciences-demonstrates-commitment-to-the-u-s-south-with-compass-initiative/)