Howard Awarded Nearly $1M for HIV Prevention Among Black Women

Gilead Sciences Inc. has awarded a grant worth nearly $1 million to the Howard University College of Medicine to promote HIV prevention among Black women and girls.

Gilead Sciences recently announced awards totaling $12.6 million in grants to the medical school’s Department of Pediatrics and Child Health and 18 other organizations as part of its new Setting the P.A.C.E. (Prevention, Arts and Advocacy, Community, Education) initiative.

Promising Futures performers at the Howard University International Stigma Conference.Promising Futures performers at the Howard University International Stigma Conference.“As the number of new HIV infections has decreased, education and prevention efforts have stumbled,” said Dr. Sohail Rana, a professor of pediatrics at the Howard University College of Medicine. Rana is also director of the annual International Conference on Stigma, which — when it convenes in November — will enable the college to train college-age peer educators to use performing arts engagement to raise awareness and promote access.

“The Gilead funding will allow us to create arts-based and other educational programs that will focus on HIV prevention in Black women, a population that carries a disproportionate burden of HIV but are often ignored in educational campaigns,” continued Rana, who will lead Howard’s team along with Patricia Houston of the Department of Pediatrics and Tia C. M. Tyree of the Department of Communication Studies in collaboration with the national nonprofit HealthHIV.

Black women were 54% of new HIV diagnoses in 2021 among women, age 16 and older, in the U.S., despite comprising only 14% of that population, according to a data from AIDSVu, the mapping tool presented by presented by Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in partnership with Gilead.

Setting the P.A.C.E. is a three-year commitment to increase HIV prevention, anti-stigma, and health equity efforts among Black cisgender and transgender women — a group disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic. Howard plans to focus its work on engagement through the arts — that is through podcasts, blogs, fashion shows, and art workshops designed for Black cisgender and transgender women.

Gilead’s executive vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel, Deborah H. Telman, described the initiative as a community-centered approach to address systemic disparities and improve overall health outcomes for Black cisgender and transgender women and girls. She said she expects the “initiative will help empower organizations to expand custom programs tailored toward fighting stigma and expanding access to HIV care in their communities.”

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