COMPASS Initiative® Awards Over $2.3M in Grants to 40 Organizations Fighting HIV in the South

(Dec. 5, 2019) – Today, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Southern AIDS Coalition, and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work announced 40 organizations that will receive a total of $2,309,592 to combat the spread of HIV in the South and support people living with HIV. The three organizations are the Coordinating Centers of Gilead Sciences’ COMPASS Initiative (COMPASS), which identified grantees engaged in community-driven solutions that are improving the health and well-being of those impacted by HIV in the South.

“Data about the HIV epidemic shows a need for increased financial investment in Southern-based organizations. These additional resources are vital to saving lives,” said Neena Smith-Bankhead, MS, Director of Capacity Building & Community Engagement, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health. “Together, we can find, grow and strengthen the capacity of organizations that are able to combat HIV in the Southern United States.”

Despite being home to only 38 percent of the country’s population, Southern states experienced 52 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2017. Due to social and structural disparities in the South—including poverty, housing stability, and food security—the epidemic represents a complex challenge that requires a variety of community-based solutions. COMPASS invests in community organizations that build awareness, reduce stigma, advance education, share knowledge, and promote the well-being of individuals impacted by HIV.

“People living with HIV often experience trauma and mental health challenges that require culturally appropriate and person-centered treatment,” said Samira Ali, PhD, LMSW, Assistant Professor and Center Director, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. “These new resources allow our community partners to enhance the quality of care so that the communities’ needs are met through community-driven solutions.”

“Through this funding, organizations are creating programs to combat the stigma and isolation that too often accompany an HIV diagnosis. Communities are key in turning the tide of the epidemic in the South,” said Dafina Ward, JD, Interim Executive Director, Southern AIDS Coalition. “We need to keep that momentum going into the next year to combat the spread of HIV while caring for those living with it in the South.” 

Born out of the recognition that the South is disproportionately affected by HIV, Gilead announced the COMPASS Initiative® two years ago. Over the course of 10 years, the community-focused program will provide more than $100 million in an unprecedented effort to combat the HIV epidemic in the South.

“We believe in going where the need is greatest, listening to those working on the front lines and providing them the resources they need to scale their success,” said Korab Zuka, Vice President of Public Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “Nowhere is that truer than in the Southern U.S., where HIV infection rates are increasing and finding access to care can be difficult. Last year our Transformative Grant partners helped reduce stigma, train healthcare professionals and expand access in rural communities. We’re excited to see these new grantees bring their creativity and tenacity to end HIV once and for all.”

Last year, 32 organizations received Transformative Grants to develop and expand the infrastructure of HIV services in the South. The one-year grants are focused on addressing disparities within the HIV epidemic by increasing organizational capacity, reducing stigma and promoting well-being, mental health, and trauma-informed care.

Click here for more information on all funded Transformative Grant Partners.

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