Spearheaded by pharma giant Gilead Sciences, the COMPASS Initiative is a 10-year collaborative effort funded at over $100 million to help HIV organizations in the South tackle the epidemic. COMPASS is celebrating the halfway mark with the video series 5 Years, 5 Voices that highlights the HIV-related work of five grantees. In addition, a special publication of a Black health journal explores the initiative’s impact.

The five groups in the series of short videos are:

  • Central Alabama Alliance Resource and Advocacy Center

  • Transinclusive Group in South Florida

  • Eagle Pass SAFE in Texas

  • Vision Community Foundation in Atlanta

  • Community Health-PIER in the Mississippi Delta

You can watch all five videos on YouTube. We’ve also embedded them throughout this article.

Since its launch in 2017, the COMPASS Initiative has worked with nearly 400 community-based organization spanning 16 states, according to a Gilead press statement. Programs have reached over 208,000 people through capacity-building training and over 340,000 people via in-person events. Its social media campaigns have reached more than 90 million folks.

To further take stock of the program’s impact, Gilead worked with Meharry Medical College, a Black academic health and sciences center in Nashville, to publish 16 articles by COMPASS grantees in a supplement of the college’s Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 

Titled The Gilead COMPASS Initiative: Navigating HIV in the Southern U.S. by Building Capacity & Bridging Communities, the journal supplement covers stigma, barriers to treatment, the role of faith-based programs and much more. (This press release contains a list of the articles and the related grantees, for example: “When My Brother Fell, I Picked Up His Weapons: Collective Remembrance as Community Mobilization among Black Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Men” by the Counter Narrative Project.)

“We are honored to be a part of this initiative with Gilead that clearly aligns with Meharry’s mission of serving the underserved. Many who are affected by HIV do not have access to the care and treatment they need because of the barriers to care and resources they face,” said James E.K. Hildreth, MD, PhD, president and CEO at Meharry Medical College, in the press release. “This journal supplement not only demonstrates the profound impact of grassroots community-based efforts in ending the epidemic but also provides documented successful approaches that other groups can replicate when tackling barriers to care.”

“The supplemental issue of Meharry Medical College’s prestigious journal is a recognition of everything we’ve been able to achieve together over the past five years and the tangible transformative impact COMPASS grantees have had on the landscape of HIV in the Southern United States,” added Deborah H. Telman, Gilead’s general counsel and executive vice president of corporate affairs. “The work highlighted in this supplement lays forth a strong foundation that we hope will set the pace for the next five years of the initiative.”

Meanwhile, the latest organization highlighted in the 5 Years, 5 Voices video series is Community Health PIER (CH PIER). Located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta by the brother-and-sister team Cedric and Gloria Sturdevant, CH Pier supports the local LGBTQ community, offers holistic support and works to tackle health disparities. That video is below: