Wake Forest University School of Divinity Brings Faith to the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®
Gilead launched the COMPASS Initiative® in the Southern United States with the goal of reaching the communities most impacted by the HIV epidemic. Three years in, the company announced that it is expanding the initiative to faith-based communities, including the Black church, working with the Wake Forest University School of Divinity.
Wake Forest will serve as the fourth coordinating center for COMPASS, bringing a faith-based component to the work and addressing an important element of Gilead’s strategy to reach people living with or at risk of HIV. Wake Forest joins the existing coordinating centers: Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Southern AIDS Coalition and the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work.
“Part of our excitement about connecting with the Gilead COMPASS Initiative® is this recognition that in the U.S. South, you cannot effectively address HIV and AIDS without thinking about faith communities,” 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. “Our enterprise for educating is not just for the sake of learning. We are doing the work that we do here at Wake Forest for humanity.”
Faith-based communities can help shift narratives about HIV, reduce stigma and educate people at risk of and living with HIV. This is especially true in the U.S. South, where religion plays an important role and religious organizations, including churches, offer an opportunity to reach communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, especially communities of color.
Gilead will provide $5 million in grant funding to Wake Forest over the next three years and renew the company's funding commitment to the other COMPASS coordinating centers. Through Gilead’s work with the centers and direct engagement with partners in the region, the company has provided $52 million in funding to the Southern United States in support of nearly 150 organizations since COMPASS began.
Gilead has committed to providing more than $100 million through COMPASS over 10 years.