Researchers at the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, along with the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and the Southern AIDS Coalition have been selected by Gilead Sciences, Inc., as coordinating centers for their new COMPASS Initiative (COMmitment to Partnership in Addressing HIV/AIDS in the Southern States). COMPASS is a 10-year, $100 million initiative to combat HIV/AIDS in the Southern United States.
The coordinating centers will identify and provide funding to local organizations that aim to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout the region. Contributing Rollins faculty include Dr. Patrick Sullivan and Dr. Aaron Siegler.
Emory University and the Rollins School of Public Health’s physicians, scientists, and educators have played a key role in HIV/AIDS from the earliest days of the epidemic. From leading behavioral and prevention research to treating and counseling thousands of patients, Emory has been a local, national, and international leader.
“This strategic partnership highlights the innovative and thoughtful approaches Rollins researchers pursue to instigate change,” said Dr. James W. Curran, James W. Curran Dean of Public Health at the Rollins School of Public Health. “The focus on capacity building and shared knowledge in the southeast is a significant expression of our long legacy of developing and supporting HIV/AIDS research and interventions.”
The new Emory COMPASS Coordinating Center joins a growing list of HIV/AIDS research centers at the university, including Emory’s Center for AIDS Research and PRISM Health. As home to one of three coordinating centers, Emory will meet the initiative’s needs through a robust program that supports organizational capacity building through community grant-making, training and technical assistance, and evaluation. The center will use geospatial analysis to determine existing service deserts and direct service provision to areas where it will have the greatest impact on HIV prevention and care.
“Given our understanding of the drivers of HIV disparities in the South, it is critical that capacity-building programs reach organizations in strategically placed locations to fill existing gaps in service,” says Dr. Sullivan, principal investigator. “It is similarly critical that those capacity-building programs invest in programs led by people of color, people living with HIV, sexual minorities, and others who are already making a difference in impacted communities.”
The Emory COMPASS Coordinating Center will work to create sustainable organizational capacity among Southern HIV/AIDS service organizations by shrinking service deserts; improving access to high-quality services; nurturing development of community organizations; and building and supporting the resiliency of organizational partners through shared efforts. The center plans to develop an online information portal that community organizations can use to share best practices, knowledge, tools and resources, and information to the public.