For several years now, national HIV rates have been highest in the South, notably among Black Americans. A new $4.5 million effort funded by drugmaker Gilead Sciences aims to address HIV health inequities in the region.

To improve HIV care among Black Americans in the South, Gilead has teamed up with the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and the Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education at Xavier University of Louisiana’s College of Pharmacy.

The funding lasts for three years and aims to improve HIV care for Black communities in three cities: Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.

According to the Gilead press release, the partnership aims to close crucial gaps in care by:

  • Increasing understanding of the impact of COVID-19 on the health care delivery system in the Black community;
  • Realigning HIV services to reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Providing training focused on culturally appropriate HIV care, inclusive of stigma-reducing strategies; and
  • Increasing access to and utilization of culturally appropriate care for Black people impacted by the HIV epidemic.

“We are committed to investing in organizations, community leaders and experts working to address the underlying determinants of health outcomes,” said Rashad Burgess, Gilead’s vice president of advancing health and Black equity, in the statement.

“Though the COVID-19 pandemic was a setback to the American health care system overall, we must bring to the forefront disproportionately impacted communities,” added Daniel E. Dawes, JD, executive director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine and author of The Political Determinants of Health.

“Xavier is a top producer of African Americans with a doctor of pharmacy degree, and we instill in our graduates the mission of Xavier and the desire to serve the underserved with an effort to mitigate health disparities for underrepresented communities,” said Kathleen Kennedy, PharmD, the dean of Xavier’s College of Pharmacy.