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OUTAthletics Announces “Love is Love” Virtual Competition

Those interested can learn more and register to participate at www.iamout.org/love

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NEW YORK – After successful “Love is Love” Competitions in Austin and Boston last February, OUTAthletics will host an individual virtual competition beginning February 4, 2021.

Each registered athlete will compete in multiple workouts and an online fundraising competition. Scores from the 4 workouts and the fundraising totals will be used to calculate scores for top finishers.

There will be 3 divisions – RX’d, Intermediate, and Adaptive – and standards for each division and the workouts are available on the competition’s registration page at www.iamout.org/love


“We’re proud to announce registration for this year’s Love is Love Individual Virtual Competition and Fundraiser,” said Eddie Plata, Executive Director of The OUT Foundation. “In a normal year, this would be an in-person partner competition, however, due to COVID-19 and restrictions across the country, we’ve moved this year’s fun online for more participants to enjoy!” 


Beginning on February 4th, each registered athlete will compete in 4 workouts and an online fundraising competition. Workouts will be things participants can do safely from home with NO EQUIPMENT needed (think pushups, burpees, air squats, running, etc.).

This competition will last for 3 weeks, with 1 workout released each week plus a floater workout that can be completed at any time. Scores from the 4 workouts and the fundraising totals will be used to calculate scores for top finishers.

Workouts will be released every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. EST and athletes will have until Monday night at 11:59 p.m. EST to input their scores. Those who believe their scores may place them in the top 10 in their division must record their workouts with We Time. The video submission is not required but top athletes will be asked for video verification. Those unable to provide video verification will have their scores nullified.

As part of our dedication to the LGBTQ+ community, participants will be asked to set up a fundraising page. In order to be eligible to receive an exclusive 2020 Love is Love t-shirt, participants must raise at least $50 on their fundraising page.

The top 3 athletes in each division will receive a prize pack from our partners, and all participants who raise $50 or more on their fundraising page will receive an exclusive 2021 Love is Love t-shirt.

Those interested can learn more and register to participate at www.iamout.org/love before scores are due for the first workout on Monday, February 8 at midnight.

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New Gilead Initiative Aims to Empower Organizations Tackling the HIV Epidemic for Black Women in the United States

Gilead‘s three-year, $12.6 million commitment will increase HIV prevention and health equity efforts for Black women and girls

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Photo courtesy of Ribbon – Center of Excellence

By Edwina Eyre | CALABASAS, Calif. – In the rapidly-evolving public health landscape, one stark reality has remained constant: Black cisgender and Transgender women bear a disproportionate burden of the HIV epidemic. Black women, who constitute only 14% of the female population in the United States, accounted for a staggering 53% of new HIV diagnoses among women aged 13 and older in just 2021 alone.

Additionally, Black Transgender women have the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses among Transgender people and are more likely to go undiagnosed and untreated in comparison to their peers. 

Although medicines like PrEP and PEP can help mitigate these disparities, structural and social factors like stigma, discrimination and economic inequality coupled with significant gaps in the delivery of culturally-competent HIV prevention information and care continue to exacerbate poor health outcomes for Black women and girls impacted by HIV. 

“Since the start of the epidemic 40 years ago, Black women have borne the brunt of annual HIV diagnoses and premature deaths, largely due to the social determinants of health that impact us long before we even get a diagnosis,” said Vanessa Johnson, Co-Executive Director at Ribbon – Center of Excellence, a nonprofit providing support for individuals in need of services for HIV and chronic diseases. “Black women are the caretakers of our communities, but structural and social barriers like poverty, violence and trauma continue to fuel disparities within HIV outcomes, which disproportionately impact us more than any other population group.” 

Last year Gilead Sciences launched the Setting the P.A.C.E. (Prevention, Arts and Advocacy, Community, Education) Initiative to help address these critical issues. This three-year, $12.6 million commitment is aimed at increasing HIV prevention, anti-stigma and health equity efforts for Black cisgender and Transgender women and girls in the United States. 

“At Gilead, we know that we cannot end the HIV epidemic if we do not prioritize the needs of

Black women and girls,” said Carmen Villar, Vice President, Public Affairs, Gilead Sciences. “The Setting the P.A.C.E. Initiative tackles barriers to care head-on by supporting high-impact organizations working to improve the HIV landscape for impacted individuals.”

Setting the P.A.C.E focuses on empowering Black women led- and serving organizations on the front lines of this epidemic, providing them with the tools and resources needed to rewrite the narrative on HIV care and treatment. Through its four key focal points –Prevention, Arts and Advocacy, Community and Education – the program seeks to support projects tackling HIV health barriers for Black women and girls, from expanding programs that provide culturally-responsive HIV care training to leveraging arts and media to engage local communities and address stigma. 

Ribbon – Center of Excellence is one of the 19 grantees that will receive the first round of Setting the P.A.C.E. funding. With support from Gilead, Ribbon will provide capacity-building assistance to other grantee organizations and non-funded groups servicing cisgender and Transgender Black women, focusing their support in the areas of policy, advocacy and convening.  

“Setting the P.A.C.E. will allow us to build a network of groups working to advance HIV health equity for Black women and girls, and foster convening spaces for these organizations,” said Linda H. Scruggs, Co-Executive Director at Ribbon. “There are a lot of organizations working toward our same goals. Once we create multilevel partnerships at federal, state and individual levels, we can identify gaps in policy and funding, and work toward providing services and advocacy to meet these needs.”
The programs that are part of the Setting the P.A.C.E Initiative will be either nationally- or regionally- focused. Most importantly, more than 75% of the organizations selected for grants are led by Black women and every funding allocation is directed toward initiatives spearheaded by Black women.

“Black women are stepping up to lead HIV advocacy and response programs across the country,” said Scruggs. “For the first time, we are building the resources and creating the opportunity to forge new paths toward fixing, healing and protecting our own community. There’s no reason why another generation of Black women, cis or Trans, should be casualties of the HIV epidemic in the years to come.”

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Gilead, GOSPEL, and the importance of Black faith communities in tackling the HIV epidemic

Gilead Sciences’ sponsorship of new PBS docuseries aligns with ongoing HIV prevention efforts among faith communities in the U.S. South

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Gospel, PBS’s new history docuseries that premiered in a set of two-hour specials on February 12th and 13th (Screenshot/YouTube PBS)

Gilead Sciences’ sponsorship of new Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) docuseries aligns with ongoing HIV prevention efforts among faith communities in the U.S. South.

By Edwina Eyre | CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -“For generations, gospel music and preaching have formed the bedrock of the Black religious experience,” narrates renowned scholar and literary critic Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in the trailer for Gospel, PBS’s new history docuseries that premiered in a set of two-hour specials on February 12th and 13th. 

Presented by Gates, Gospel delves into the origins, history and impact of song on Black sermon and spirituality. The series takes viewers on a historical journey beginning in 1930s Chicago, Illinois, where Southern migrants Thomas A. Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe blended blues and jazz to form the foundations of the gospel sound we recognize today, and continues up to the present-day Platinum Age, where more secular beats are contemporizing familiar rhythms featured on our TVs and radios.

Gilead is the presenting sponsor for this series, which directly aligns with their efforts to engage faith communities in the U.S. South around social justice, fostering positive relationships with LGBTQ+ communities and intentional interfaith engagement through their COMPASS Initiative®, a 10-year, more than $100 million commitment to address HIV in the Southern United States.

The COMPASS Initiative was born directly out of a listening and learning tour Gilead conducted throughout the U.S. South in 2017. During the tour, Gilead met with those most directly affected by HIV, mapping out the areas where deep support was needed to end the epidemic in the region. One of the primary realizations that emerged from their discussions was the critical importance of the church and spiritual leaders in changing perceptions of HIV in Black communities and increasing awareness about resources available for individuals struggling with their diagnosis. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black people continue to experience the greatest burden of HIV in the United States. Black Americans account for over 40% of new HIV diagnoses in the United States, despite only making up 14% of the U.S. population. The disproportionate impact on these communities is particularly high in the Southern United States, where Black individuals account for nearly 52% of people living with HIV and 50% of new diagnoses

The church is an essential touchpoint within the Black community, serving as an inclusive hub for gathering and a key institution to access critical services and resources. Regions hit hardest by HIV are familiar with the barriers to care and treatment faced by members of their communities, and the struggles caused by lack of awareness and stigma. Engaging faith leaders and their pulpits in order to address stigma, promote awareness and shift the conversation around HIV is critical in tackling the epidemic for everyone, everywhere. 

Recognizing this importance, Gilead introduced the Wake Forest University School of Divinity as a COMPASS partner in 2021 to engage the Black church and other faith-based communities. Wake Forest serves as the initiative’s fourth coordinating center and focuses on preparing ministry and nonprofit leaders to address the needs of those affected by HIV. In 2022, the Wake Forest Coordinating Center launched “Black Faith and HIV,” a new initiative to mobilize Black faith communities around ending the HIV epidemic. A first-of-its-kind platform, this initiative is a dynamic hub for faith leaders and community members to access a variety of resources and mechanisms for addressing the HIV epidemic, with a particular focus on faith-based trauma and stigma reduction. 

“HIV isn’t just a problem individuals face, it’s a problem communities take on together,” says Dr. Shanell L. McGoy, Senior Director of Public Affairs at Gilead Sciences. “At Gilead, we recognize that engaging faith leaders is a critical component to erasing HIV stigma, shifting the narrative about living with HIV, educating communities and tackling barriers to care, which are fundamental to the success of our COMPASS Initiative.” 

Gospel music, the Black church and the HIV epidemic –  all three ultimately circle back to a theme of community. Whether through the powerful communal experience of singing gospel hymns or other forms of sermon and prayer, the unifying support found within the Black church’s congregation can be critical in reaching communities affected most by HIV and building networks of support to aid them in overcoming the challenges posed by the HIV epidemic. 

You can watch Gospel on the PBS website or app. 

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David Vela: A Champion for LACCD’s LGBTQIA+ Rights

“He reminds me that you can be in politics in an altruistic way, and they don’t have to define you.”

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DAVID VELA (Courtesy of David Vela)

Out of the blocks, David Vela tells people, “I’m not apologetic about having what the right would call a gay agenda.” Likely, this is one of the reasons Vela has made so much headway for LGBTQIA+ rights through his work as the president of Los Angeles County Community College District’s (LACCD) Board of Trustees. For Vela, understanding this need began early.

Born in Boyle Heights, as a child, Vela moved to Echo Park after his mother married his stepfather. The family saved towards buying a house in Linwood. Then, his parents divorced. “I had a pretty tough childhood,” he recalls. “There was a period when I witnessed a lot of violence in our home. We were on food stamps and moved a lot.” Vela applies what he took away from those experiences to his work for the LBGTQIA+ community. 

Then, a single mother, Vela’s mother, moved the family to Bell Gardens, where David spent his school years. While at Bell Gardens High School, Vela got involved in student politics. “Even then, I had a John Galbraith philosophy and understanding that poverty exists, though it’s not spoken about.”

It was Vela’s grandmother who instilled the importance of higher education in him. “She taught me that a college degree is the most important thing you can invest in. No one can take your education away, and it can lift an entire family out of poverty.” 

After high school, Vela attended UC Santa Cruz. With his eye on pre-med, he transferred to UCLA, where he earned his BS in biological anthropology. His passion for public policy was flamed at UCLA, where he undertook the role of vice president of Chicanos in Community Medicine. Additionally, he had an internship with Hermandad Mexicana Nacional, a non-profit that advocates for immigrant rights. The position would prove integral in his future.

Vela was all set to attend medical school when he woke up one morning with a realization—he didn’t want to enter that field. Instead, “I knew I was going to be involved in public policy. I just felt it.” In short order, he found himself in Pepperdine’s Master of Public Policy program with concentrations in international relations and economics, on a full scholarship. In many ways, Vela felt like a fish out of water.  “The notion of upward mobility was a world I’d never been exposed to, so that was a value-added component, although sometimes lonely.” 

Post grad school, Vela began working with Greenlining Institute, an Oakland-based advocacy think tank and non-profit with a mission to provide communities of color—those that had been the targets of redlining in the past—economic opportunities with banks, various foundations and the Federal Reserve. 

While with Greenlining, Vela was contacted by Cathryn Rivera-Hernandez, whom he’d met during his Hermandad Mexicana Nacional internship. At the time, Rivera-Hernandez was Governor Gray Davis’s general counsel. California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) needed Latino and unemployment outreach. Was Vela interested in a senior advisor role? 

“Cathryn was the first person who took a chance on me,” Vela says. He admits though he accepted the job, “I was way too young for that job right out of grad school.” During Vela’s tenure with the EDD, 9/11 occurred. “I was in charge of offering Rapid Service unemployment applications to all the workforce hubs throughout the state.” This was followed by a stint as a senior legislative assistant handling Labor, Transportation, and Economic Development for former California State Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg.

Politics and education suddenly collided for Vela while serving East Los Angeles political aid for LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina. This found him visiting schools for ages K through 12 to alert the community to county services available to them. Vela impressed parent councils of the Montebello School District, who asked him to run for school board. In 2007, Vela heeded their call, ran for school board, and won. “I was an openly gay school board member in a very conservative Latino town.” 

Having witnessed the bullying of LGBTQ students in K-12, one of Vela’s first actions was to pass a districtwide antibullying resolution. “It was revolutionary at the time,” he says. “Back in 2007, parents didn’t even want to recognize that they had gay children.

DAVID VELA (Courtesy of David Vela)

During this time, dual enrollment and articulation movements began. The program made it possible for kids as young as middle school-aged to earn community college credits through their classes. “The fact that we could help students access community colleges was a game-changer,” Vela says. “Once they stepped foot in just one class, their wheels started turning, and they began to see possibilities for their future education.”

It was his first exposure to Los Angeles’ community college system, the largest in America, with nine schools and over 200,000 students. Vela began to see a future for himself there, too. In 2018, Vela was the first openly gay member on LACCD’s board of trustees. “We were at the cusp of what was to be a very draconian, anti-gay agenda from the Trump administration,” he recalls. “I felt like I had to kick doors open and say, ‘I’m here representing queer students of all denominations, shapes and sizes, and we deserve protection.” 

In 2020, Vela stepped into the role of president for the LACCD Board of Trustees. That October, Vela, who also chaired the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs, put forth a district-wide LGBTQIA+ Bill of Rights. “At the time, what existed in terms of rights was very piecemeal,” he says. “For example, whereas East LA College had a strong footprint of services and safe zones, West LA College did not.” 

The resolution passed, bringing myriad impactful changes, such as reviewing and updating anti-discrimination policies and procedures. Another focus of the Bill of Rights was a slate of LGBTQIA+ events to bring visibility to the community, starting with an annual celebration of LGBTQIA+ History Month. As momentum has grown, campuses acknowledge Pride Week by flying the Pride Flag. On tap, too, a trans job fair and an LGBTQIA+ ball. The LACCD held its first district-wide Lavender Graduation, a ceremony to honor LGBTQIA+ students and allies for their achievements in LACCD colleges. “It started with 50 students,” Vela says. “Now, in our fifth year, we honored 200 LGBTQIA+ students. It’s one of the most moving things I’ve seen in the district.”

In addition, Vela advocated for safe zones where LGBTQIA+ students could study, hang out, meet with faculty, and address personal situations, such as serving as a safe place for trans women to administer hormones. “It evolved into a campaign for ongoing state funding, which resulted in a $10 million one-time allocation–for either rehabilitating existing structures or building new ones, staff and operations–to have these centers throughout California community colleges.” Several Dream Resource Centers and BIPOC organizations merged into the efforts. That $10 million has become a permanent part of the state budget.

Underway is a district-wide LGBTQIA+ curriculum and courses. “They’re currently embedded within an interdisciplinary model,” Vela says. “And in conjunction with the Academic Center, we’re moving forward with creating an LGBTQIA+ Studies department at each college.” Vela’s term as LACCD board president concludes at the end of 2023. His involvement with the board, though, will continue. 

As integral as LACCD is to Vela’s life, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. He is the owner and chief executive officer of Velada Consulting, a public outreach firm that works with high-level capital construction. Beyond this, he’s a founder of Honor Pac, a political action committee that empowers LGBTQ+ Latina/o/e communities. “We have to stand up,” Vela says. “United, and with the right assistance and community support, we can overcome oppression.” 

The Montebello resident finds time to devote to his family, specifically his grandmother, mom and three nieces. His partner, Victor Valerio, provides a sense of balance in Vela’s high-speed life. “He reminds me that you can be in politics in an altruistic way, and they don’t have to define you.”

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New video series celebrates progress & addresses challenges during Transgender Awareness Week

The new video series builds on Gilead’s long-standing support for the Transgender community through their TRANScend® Community Impact Fund

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Arianna Innuritegui-Lint is the head of the South Florida Chapter of the TransLatin@ Coalition, and founder/director of Arianna’s Center (Screenshot/YouTube GILEAD)

Hosted by GLAAD and Arianna’s Center and produced by Gilead, “Community Conversations: Wellness and Justice in the Trans Community” raises awareness about the struggles faced by Transgender people and increases the visibility of the Transgender community during Transgender Awareness Week. 

By Liz Brown | BURLINGTON, Vt. – Transgender Awareness Week is a week-long celebration of Transgender people in the lead up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. While both commemorations elevate  the impactful strides made toward achieving  equality and justice for Transgender people, Transgender Day of Remembrance additionally honors the memory of people taken by transphobic violence. 

This year, Transgender Awareness Week comes at a time when Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people across the United States are facing increased levels of violence and discrimination. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been filed in the U.S. so far this year, with a large majority targeting Trans people, particularly Trans youth.

To raise awareness and mobilize support for the Transgender community, GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer media advocacy organization, and  Arianna’s Center, a Trans-led service organization working to empower Transgender women of color in Florida and Puerto Rico, released a three-part video series titled, “Community Conversations: Wellness and Justice in the Trans Community.” The series, which was produced in partnership with Gilead, provides viewers with the tools and information needed to fight back against hateful anti-Trans legislation and rhetoric. 

The conversations were hosted by Raquel Willis, media consultant at GLAAD and Daniela Arroyo, media consultant at Arianna’s Center, and featured an all-star lineup of panelists, including Peppermint, television personality and Activist; Schuyler Bailar, LGBTQ+ advocate and author; Tori Cooper, a pioneering leader of Transgender justice and community at the Human Rights Campaign; and Dr. Caryn Whitacre, Associate Director of Trans Behavioral Health at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Panelists held three different conversations – “Transgender People and Legislation,” “Social Justice and the Trans Community” and “Mental Health and Trans Community” –  to discuss issues that directly impact Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming communities. 

During the social justice conversation, Arroyo underscored the critical role of allies in Trans-positive advocacy efforts: “I would tell allies, first of all, to listen and learn. I feel you can really help to just listen to our experiences. Also to advocate for inclusivity — for more inclusive policies and be part of the fight for our community.”

Additionally, Willis highlighted several LGBTQ+ lawmakers who are not only breaking down barriers in office, but also enacting positive change at all levels of government: “Trans folks need to be able to tell our stories on our own terms, but we also need to be respected as the leaders of our own lives and destinies as well.” This was a theme throughout the series – while the Transgender community faces enormous challenges, there are incredible people doing the very necessary work of fighting for equality and justice. 

The new video series builds on Gilead’s long-standing support for the Transgender community through their TRANScend® Community Impact Fund, a program that works to reduce health disparities among the Transgender community by supporting the Trans-led organizations working to improve the safety, health and wellness of the Transgender community.

Through grantmaking, capacity building and direct services – Gilead’s three-pronged approach helps these organizations overcome the challenges they’re facing. Since the fund’s launch in 2019, the initiative has awarded more than $9.2 million in grants to 26 community-led organizations across 15 states.

 
You can watch the full video series here.

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Liz Brown

Liz Brown is a Senior Associate, Communications at Precision Strategies and is based in Burlington, Vermont.

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Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

Arianna’s Center & Gilead: Helping Address Unmet Needs of the Transgender Community in HIV Care:

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Gilead COMPASS Initiative® 5 Years, 5 Voices: Community Health-PIER

5 Years of Impact from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

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By Donovan Harris | The Gilead COMPASS ® Initiative’s ‘5 Years, 5 Voices’ video series highlights the stories of five organizations that have made incredible strides to address HIV stigma and dismantle obstacles to HIV care in the U.S. South.

The final video in this series features COMPASS grantee Community Health-PIER. This organization, founded by a brother-sister duo, is working in the Mississippi Delta to help local LGBTQ+ communities and those living with HIV lead healthy, thriving lives. By providing critical resources and education, neighbors say Community Health-PIER has helped change their lives for the better.

Hear from other voices in the U.S. South who are working to end the HIV epidemic:

Central Alabama Alliance Resource and Advocacy Center (CAARAC)

The Transinclusive Group 

Eagle Pass SAFE 

Vision Community Foundation

Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

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COMPASS Initiative 5 Years, 5 Voices: Vision Community Foundation

5 Years of Impact from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

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Screenshot/YouTube

By Donovan Harris | Atlanta’s Vision Community Foundation is working everyday to bridge the gap between the church and the LGBTQ+ community. The nonprofit’s Executive Director Bishop O.C. Allen says he’s committed to sharing a message of love and inclusion. As a Gilead COMPASS Initiative® grantee, VCF provides access to important resources like mental health care and HIV testing. Their vision is to impact and transform the minority LGBTQIA+ community through outreach, awareness and prevention. In the fourth video in the “5 Years, 5 Voices” series, VCF shares how this work, rooted in faith and justice, is making a positive impact in the community. 

Hear from other voices in the U.S. South who are working to end the HIV epidemic:

Central Alabama Alliance Resource and Advocacy Center (CAARAC)

The Transinclusive Group 

Eagle Pass SAFE 

Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

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COMPASS Initiative 5 Years, 5 Voices: Eagle Pass SAFE

5 Years of Impact from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

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Screenshot/YouTube

By Donovan Harris | EAGLE PASS, TX. – To recognize the Gilead COMPASS Initiative ® fifth anniversary, the five-part video series ‘5 Years, 5 Voices’ features the stories of grantee organizations across the U.S. South working to end HIV stigma and remove structural barriers to HIV care and treatment to improve overall health outcomes. 

The third video in this series highlights Eagle Pass SAFE, an organization in Southwest Texas that is making an incredible impact by providing essential services for the LGBTQ+ community. Their dedicated efforts ensure that individuals have access to critical resources, including healthcare services, mental health support, education and community outreach programs.

By addressing these needs, Eagle Pass SAFE is playing a critical role in fostering well-being and inclusivity for all. This organization, like the others in this series, is dedicated to eradicating HIV stigma and dismantling obstacles to HIV care in the U.S. South.

Hear from the other voices working to end the HIV epidemic in the Southern U.S. and watch the first video in the series, and the second video in the series.

Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

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COMPASS Initiative 5 Years, 5 Voices: Transinclusive group, South Florida

5 Years of Impact from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

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Screenshot/YouTube

By Donovan Harris | FORT LAUDERDALE, FL. – To recognize the Gilead COMPASS Initiative ® fifth anniversary, the five-part video series ‘5 Years, 5 Voices’ features the stories of grantee organizations across the U.S. South working to end HIV stigma and remove structural barriers to HIV care and treatment to improve overall health outcomes. 

The second video in this series features the Transinclusive Group, which serves as a beacon of light and support for the Trans community in Fort Lauderdale, FL. This devoted group is on a mission to create a world that is more equitable for Trans people and make sure on one is left behind. 

With the support of the COMPASS Initiative, they are forging a path toward a more sustainable organization, empowering Trans people to live healthy and thriving lives. 

Hear from leaders like Tatiana Williams who, alongside her team, is working tirelessly to connect community members to resources like case management and HIV care in Southwest Florida.

Hear from the other voices working to end the HIV epidemic in the Southern U.S. and watch the first video in the series.

Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

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The Romantic Advantage: Why Queer Romantics Excel in Online Gaming

When playing at a casino online, it’s necessary to formulate a strategy ahead of time and stick to it

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'Two men kissing' (Photo ByJoshua Mcknight)

Online casino gaming is a pastime enjoyed by individuals all over the world. People who engage in online casino gaming have the opportunity to connect with a community of online gamers, test their skills and experience the thrill of placing bets. However, there is a particular group that seems to have the edge over their competition in the virtual world of online casino gaming – romantics. The unique qualities, experiences and perspectives that romantic people have seem to prove advantageous when it comes to online gaming. This article explores why romantics and specifically queer romantics thrive as players. 

They’re Less Afraid to Take Risks

Telling someone you like them in a romantic way can be a scary experience. However, romantics are accustomed to facing this fear and the accompanying risk of rejection because they believe the potential payoff of a beautiful relationship is worth it. This fearlessness translates into online casino gaming as taking risks is seen as a part of the game. From making bold, strategic mores to taking chances in high-stakes casino games, romantics are oftentimes more willing to step out of their comfort zones and when gambling.

They Enjoy the Thrill

Romantic individuals are known for their appreciation of thrilling experiences. From a passionate kiss in the rain to the sensation of butterflies in their stomach, romantics seek out and savor these precious moments. Similarly, they can find joy in the thrill of online gaming. The adrenaline rush of competing against others, the excitement of unlocking new levels and the sense of accomplishment when achieving their goals all contribute to their enjoyment of the virtual world.

They Know How to Plan Ahead

Planning a romantic date or experience requires time and careful consideration. Because of this, romantics have honed their skills in planning ahead which is crucial in online casino gambling. When playing at a casino online, it’s necessary to formulate a strategy ahead of time and stick to it. The ability of romantic people to think ahead and anticipate outcomes gives them an edge in making calculated decisions and increases their odds in a game.

They Are Good People Readers

Understanding the emotions and intentions of others is a skill that romantics are particularly developed in through their experiences in relationships. This ability to read people can prove invaluable when playing live dealer or multiplayer games as observing and analyzing opponents’ behavior provides a competitive advantage. Skills such as making informed predictions about their opponent’s next move, bluffing effectively and outsmarting the completion are all aided by having good people-reading skills.

They Tend to Be Financially Savvy

Most romantics aspire to settle down with a lifelong partner which necessitates having some understanding of finances. Being financially savvy is also an important skill in online casino gaming. As financially savvy people, romantics know the importance of planning out their betting amounts, setting a budget and sticking to it. This ability to manage resources effectively helps them avoid getting carried away by the excitement of the game, ensuring a more sustainable and enjoyable gaming experience.

They’ll Spend Time to Learn the Game

Building a successful relationship requires time and effort spent learning about your significant other. For example, how they communicate, what they like and don’t like and what kind of person they are. Romantics are people who have the dedication to invest in understanding their partners. Many romantics are therefore likely to have the same dedication that is needed to learn the intricacies of a game. They are willing to put in the time and effort to master the mechanics, strategies and nuances of online gaming, which ultimately leads to improved performances and a deeper appreciation of the virtual world.

They Keep Their Eye on the Prize

Romantic individuals are less likely to be distracted by the fleeting pleasures of life because they have their eyes firmly set on the ultimate prize – finding their lifelong partner. This focus and determination translate into online casino gambling, as romantics are less likely to be swayed by small bets and quick thrills. This can mean that romantics are more disciplined and strategic in their casino gaming approach and if they happen to fail, they are more likely to pick themselves back up and keep trying down a different avenue.

They Operate on Emotion

Romantics are driven by their emotions which contributes to their likelihood of falling in love quickly and passionately. In turn, their heightened emotional consciousness means they are better able to find excitement when anticipating something or joy when celebrating something. This means that when playing online casino games, romantics are more likely to experience a range of emotions than their more logically-minded counterparts. The emotional connection that romantic people have to the game can enhance their overall experience and fuel their motivation to keep on playing and improving.

They’ll Stick It Out Through Hard Times

Relationships, like gambling, have their ups and downs. Romantics understand the importance of perseverance and resilience in navigating the challenging times that occur during any relationship. Queer love stories, however, tend to have more than their fair share of ups and downs due to their existence in a society that is still working towards the acceptance of queer love. Their resilience can translate over to their approach to online gaming as they are more likely to stay committed and determined even when they experience disappointing setbacks or losses. The ability to bounce back, learn from their mistakes and continue to improve their gameplay is something romantics excel at.

In conclusion, queer romantics possess unique qualities that give them an advantage in online gaming. Their fearlessness in taking risks, enjoyment of thrilling experiences, ability to plan ahead, skill in reading people, financial savviness, dedication to learning, focus on the ultimate prize, emotional connection to the game and resilience in the face of challenges all contribute to their good-hand in the virtual world. However, it’s also important to remember that online casino gaming comes with a certain level of financial risk, so everyone, regardless of their advantages, should take steps to mitigate and manage that risk for a safe and enjoyable gaming experience.

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Helping to End HIV in the U.S. starts in the Southern States

5 Years of Impact from the Gilead COMPASS Initiative®

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By Shanell McGoy | ATLANTA  – It’s 2023, and HIV is still a public health crisis in the United States. Despite being preventable due to PrEP medicines, the disease continues to impact communities across the country, disproportionately affecting vulnerable individuals in the Southern states. Home to just more than one-third of the population, the Southern states account for 51% of new HIV diagnoses.

Of the 1,055,603 people living with HIV in the U.S. in 2020, 46% (481,815) were in the U.S. South, a number higher than the entire population of Atlanta. More than 65% of them are people of color. As the epidemic continues to affect Southern communities despite medical advances in prevention and treatment, it is clear that the factors perpetuating the epidemic are no longer medicinal but structural and social.

Launched in 2017, the Gilead COMPASS Initiative® – a 10-year, more than $100 million commitment to support organizations working to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States – is trying to address these factors.

COMPASS was born out of a listening and learning tour that Gilead conducted throughout the South to meet with those most directly affected by HIV and determine the most effective approach to addressing the vast health inequities barring access to care. The commitment’s ethos is rooted in the belief that the best ideas to end the epidemic come from the creativity and resilience of people on the frontlines – those who are daily tackling the social and cultural complexities that have permitted HIV to endure for far too long.

By collaborating with regional groups and community members, COMPASS empowers local organizations to directly address the systemic barriers that contribute to regional and cultural HIV disparities and stigma. COMPASS provides local organizations with the resources they need to tackle the structural and social barriers that stand in the way of one day making the end of this epidemic a reality.

Five years later, the initiative has awarded approximately 400 local organizations providing HIV care and services and built partnerships with nationally recognized groups such as GLAAD and the Southern HIV Impact Fund to combat stigma through capacity-building training and targeted public relations campaigns. With the help of coordinating centers Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Southern AIDS Coalition, University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and Wake Forest University School of Divinity, COMPASS has reached nearly 300,000 people through funded capacity building training and direct service provision in the Southern US region. Through this work, Gilead remains committed to ending the HIV epidemic in the South and worldwide.

To celebrate the COMPASS fifth anniversary, Gilead is launching 5 Years, 5 Voices, a five-part video series that will feature the stories of COMPASS grantee organizations across the U.S. South and the work they do to remove structural barriers to HIV care and treatment and improve overall health outcomes for underserved populations in their local communities.

The first video highlights COMPASS grantee Central Alabama Alliance Resource and Advocacy Center (CAARAC), a local Alabama organization providing HIV prevention programs and healthcare services to seven of the most vulnerable counties in the state.

Gilead: More than Medicine is part of a paid year-long collaboration between Gilead Sciences and the Los Angeles Blade

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