HIV advocates and leaders gather at Emory for Southern Solidarity Summit

In this June 27, 2013 file photo, Reggie Batiste, then-program manager with AIDS Healthcare Foundation, administers a free HIV test as part of National HIV Testing Day in Atlanta. Metro Atlanta has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. In 2020, 38,140 people in Atlanta were living with HIV. Almost 80% of those individuals were people of color. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

The Southern Solidarity HIV Advocacy Summit at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health brings together over 150 HIV advocates and leaders across the South on Friday and Saturday to discuss strategies and successes in advocating against barriers to equitable HIV care and treatment in the region.

Kia Colbert is the director of the COMPASS Coordinating Center at Emory University, who is hosting the event along with the Southern AIDS Coalition and ACT NOW: END AIDS. 

Colbert told “All Things Considered” host Jim Burress that HIV continues to disproportionately devastate the U.S. South.

To address these disparities, pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences launched the COMPASS Initiative, a 10-year, more than $100 million commitment towards supporting those living with and affected by HIV across the U.S. South.

Colbert said there still remains a pressing need for policy that mitigates the structural and social factors contributing to the growing numbers of HIV diagnoses among vulnerable communities in the South.

Christopher Alston contributed to this report.