Gilead Sciences and Wake Forest University School of Divinty partner to Address HIV Epidemic Through Faith-Based Programming and Community Outreach
Gilead Will Provide $5 Million in Grant Funding to Wake Forest Over 3 Years as Part of the Gilead COMPASS Initiative in the Southern United States
Foster City, Calif., February 16, 2021 – Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) today announced a new partnership with the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, one of the leading academic and faith-based institutions in the United States, as part of the company’s ongoing COMPASS Initiative®. Through COMPASS, Gilead works with non-profit and academic institutions, which serve as coordinating centers that direct support to local community organizations through grants, training and collaborative learning opportunities to help mitigate the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States.
Wake Forest will serve as the initiative’s fourth coordinating center, expanding into faith-based communities, notably the Black church, to address an important element of Gilead’s strategy to reach people living with or at risk of HIV in the Southern United States. Wake Forest will join the existing coordinating centers: Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Southern AIDS Coalition and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
“In our role as a coordinating center, the Wake Forest University School of Divinity is looking forward to working with other faith-based organizations to shift harmful cultural narratives about HIV throughout the Southern United States to narratives of justice, healing and hope,” said Rev. Jonathan Lee Walton, PhD, Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. “We are pleased to work with Gilead and the other coordinating centers to help advance social justice, interfaith and LGBTQ+ issues across communities and build strong partnerships that bring innovative solutions to people living with and at risk of HIV.” “COMPASS is an important example of Gilead’s commitment to address healthcare disparities as part of our broader efforts to promote social justice,” said Daniel O’Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gilead Sciences. “From our years of working with people and organizations battling HIV in the Southern United States, we recognize the important role of faith communities and leaders. We are looking forward to working with Wake Forest and a growing network of faith leaders as part of the overarching efforts to end the HIV epidemic.”
Launched in 2017, COMPASS is a 10-year, more than $100 million collaborative initiative that seeks to eradicate underlying serious and systemic challenges that contribute to the HIV epidemic in the Southern United States. These challenges require coordinated and cross-sector responses primarily focused on combating stigma, improving the quality of and access to healthcare services and increasing local leadership and advocacy efforts for those impacted by HIV. Through Gilead’s work with the coordinating centers and direct engagement with partners in the region, the company has provided $52 million in funding to the Southern United States since the program’s inception, in support of nearly 150 organizations.
COMPASS focuses on the geographies in the Southern United States identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as hardest hit by HIV, and where the government is providing additional resources, technology and expertise to expand HIV prevention and treatment activities.
The Black community and other communities of color continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV in the United States, according to the CDC. Despite being only 13% of the U.S. population, Black Americans account for 43% of the new HIV diagnoses in the country. The disproportionate impact on these communities is particularly high in the Southern United States, where 53% of people living with HIV and 52% of new diagnoses occur among Black individuals. This disparity is even higher among women: Black women account for 67% of all women with diagnosed HIV in the Southern United States.
“The disproportionate burden of HIV on Black communities and other communities of color in the U.S. South is alarming,” said Rev. Shonda Jones, EdD, who will lead the coordinating center’s activities and is Senior Associate Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. “Through COMPASS, we have an opportunity to eradicate root causes of HIV, including stigma, and to reach people impacted by the disease through Black churches and other interfaith partners in the Southern United States.”
Outreach in the context of interfaith services and beyond offers an opportunity to educate community organizations about HIV. “I know first-hand about the stigma that many of us face in the Black community,” said Morris Singletary, Executive Director of Pozitive2Positive, which first received COMPASS funding in 2019. “COMPASS has given our organization the opportunity to help connect with Black men of faith and build a program that helps us support one another. I look forward to working with Wake Forest and Gilead to drive change and foster conversations around faith, sexuality and health.”
About Gilead Sciences
Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California.
Gilead has promoted equity, particularly healthcare equity, since the company brought its first therapies to the market. Through global partnerships, Gilead’s medicines today reach millions of people in low- and middle-income countries around the world. In the United States, Gilead has committed more than $100 million over 10 years through the COMPASS Initiative to community organizations that are working to combat HIV in the Southern United States. In 2020, Gilead launched the Racial Equity Community Impact Fund to support organizations tackling racial inequities affecting Black communities across the United States.
For more information about Gilead, visit the company’s website at www.gilead.com, follow Gilead on Twitter (@Gilead Sciences) or call Gilead Public Affairs at 1-800-GILEAD-5 or 1-650-574-3000.
Whether it’s the ongoing HIV crisis or coronavirus pandemic, we continue to see disproportionate morbidity and mortality rates for Black communities. The statistics are startling. Currently 1.2 million people nationwide are HIV+ and Black people make up 52% of new HIV cases. It was reported that Florida is one of the top 10 states in the U.S. with the highest HIV rates. That’s why Gilead created the COMPASS Initiative- a $100 million community-driven initiative in its fourth year to combat the HIV crisis and fight systemic root causes. The goal is to increase innovative programming at the ground level, reduce stigma and shame, and give local leaders a seat at the table with funding and support for advocacy efforts.