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Gilead Sciences and a coalition of LGBTQ+ and human rights-focused organizations mobilize to address monkeypox public health emergency

Foster City, California
Thursday, August 11, 2022, 16:00 Hrs  [IST]

Gilead Sciences, Inc., GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and NMAC announced immediate action in response to the emerging monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak, which is disproportionately impacting the LGBTQ+ community, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM), as well as those who are living with HIV. Gilead will provide up to $5 million in global grant funding to help support three areas of focus: a public education and vaccine hesitancy communications campaign, a public policy response and a global outbreak emergency fund.

The MPV outbreak was declared a public health emergency by the US Department of Health and Human Services on August 4. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 528 MPV infections diagnosed between April 27 and June 24, at 43 sites in 16 countries. Of that group, 98% of the cases were among gay or bisexual men and 41% were living with HIV.

“Throughout our history, Gilead has worked to address critical public health challenges and healthcare disparities, particularly those faced by the LGBTQ+ community or impacted by the HIV epidemic,” said Deborah Telman, executive vice president, corporate affairs and general counsel, Gilead Sciences. “Today we are proud to work with our longtime collaborators around the world to help meet the immediate needs of impacted communities and to help identify longer term solutions to this emerging crisis. At Gilead, we are also accelerating and expanding our early-stage antiviral drug screening program to identify new molecules for potential future treatment of MPV infection.”

Funding will help support three key areas of response.

Gilead’s Global Monkeypox Outbreak Emergency Fund will provide grants of up to $50,000 to existing grantee organizations working in regions with active MPV outbreaks to respond to this growing emergency. Funds may be used to cover expenses such as community mobilization activities specifically addressing MPV outbreak in communities disproportionately impacted by HIV, operating costs related to HIV testing and service interruptions and essential safety materials.

GLAAD, HRC, NBJC and NCLR will help continue to ensure that critical information about MPV reaches impacted communities. This comprehensive communications campaign will help LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV receive accurate, accessible and targeted information so they are able to make informed decisions about how to prevent and treat MPV. Public education efforts from the national coalition will include creation of videos, graphics and other information resources focused on vaccines, prevention and treatment to be distributed to media, community centers and organizations, as well as organizers and managers of LGBTQ+ events and venues.

“As we saw with HIV, Covid-19, and now MPV, disinformation continues to challenge the LGBTQ+ community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO, GLAAD. “This new collaboration will enable creating and distributing content and resources to help our community know the facts and to understand prevention and treatment for MPV. When communities receive accurate, timely information, they are empowered to take appropriate action, leading to long-lasting, positive health outcomes.”

“As MPV continues to impact our communities, we’re witnessing a concerning amount of misinformation and confusion,” said Joni Madison, Interim President, HRC. “That misinformation is especially harmful to BIPOC communities who historically are sidelined when it comes to equitable access to care and treatment. Over the past several weeks, we’ve also seen the LGBTQ+ community doing what we’ve always had to do: caring and advocating for each other. In the same vein, we look forward to working together with Gilead and other partner organizations to combat the stigma that prevents people from seeking the care they need.”

“The National Black Justice Coalition is excited to be a part of this coordinated effort to prevent the spread of MPV across the US, especially among the Black LGBTQ+/SGL community and people living with HIV/AIDS,” said David J. Johns, Ph.D., executive director, National Black Justice Coalition. “We have engaged with key decision-makers since the outbreak emerged to ensure our community is included, in non-stigmatizing ways, in public health campaigns, is educated about the dangers of this virus, and is connected to care. Responses must be democratized so information, testing and treatment resources reach people who have the greatest need and the fewest resources.”

“There has been a lack of accurate information about MPV and that has, and will continue to negatively and disproportionately hurt the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community, communities of colour and people at the intersections of these underrepresented identities,” said Imani Rupert-Gordon, executive director, NCLR. “We are seeing the number of MPV cases across the country increase and our community expects and deserves access to education and resources to help combat the virus, and feel safe in their communities.”

NMAC will act as the policy response organizing centre to help address policy issues related to HIV and MPV. Funding from Gilead will help NMAC inform public policy to drive a more comprehensive, swift and coordinated community response.

“NMAC is grateful to Gilead for their leadership on this critical issue,” said Paul Kawata, executive director, NMAC. “Through our extensive contacts at the federal level and with the support of our community partners, we will work with both the White House and Congress to provide the necessary resources to deal with this outbreak. Our top priorities will include making sure that vaccine access is equitable for all communities at risk and that any outreach plans will include ways to deal with vaccine hesitancy in a culturally competent way.”

Collaboration is crucial to support the sustainability of community partners and these groups will work together to monitor the evolving MPV landscape to impact response.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people.

GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ+ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) people.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is America's leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer+, and same gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people, including people living with HIV.

For 45 years NCLR has worked to achieve and advance LGBTQ equity through litigation, legislation, advocacy and public education. NCLR has held a unique space in the LGBTQ civil rights arena as an organization founded by lesbians and fighting for justice for all LGBTQ people – bringing a fierce, longstanding commitment to racial, economic and gender justice for the most underrepresented people in our communities.

NMAC leads with race to urgently fight for health equity and racial justice to end the HIV epidemic in America. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced our mission through a variety of programmes and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research programme, numerous electronic and print materials.

 

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