The HVTN Faith Initiative is a national program involving Faith Ambassadors across the U.S. who connect with diverse faith communities. They share the most current evidence-based information regarding HIV, vaccines, and antibodies being developed and tested in clinical trials for HIV prevention and treatment. For additional information, read our latest Press Release about the program.
“Both faith and scientific discovery are rooted in the desire for abundant life for all, with healing as a key tenet. The active pursuit of an effective HIV vaccine that can bring wellness and wholeness to the world is not just theoretical, it’s theological as well.”
- Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III, HVTN project director, Faith Ambassador
Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III is the founder of UBtheCURE, LLC, a Chicago-based consulting company on the intersection of faith, health, and human rights with expertise in HIV/AIDS and COVID-19. Although his formal training is in immunology and cancer epidemiology, Ulysses’ primary work has been in HIV and AIDS education, awareness, advocacy, and capacity building in the context of faith. Ulysses previously served on the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) and the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches, and he is the co-founder of federally recognized National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Ulysses’ professional mantra and approach to healthcare is to treat people, and not just disease.
Dr. Bambi W. Gaddist has committed 40-plus years working to in the area of human sexuality with a focus on HIV/STI/COVID-19 prevention, intervention, policy, advocacy, and community mobilization. She serves as a Board member of the National Black Women’s HIV/AIDS Network, Southern AIDS Coalition, Southern Black HIV/AIDS Policy and Advocacy Network, and Co-Director of the Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP-IU School of Public Health).
Dr. Dontá Morrison is a social entrepreneur focused on bridging gaps that will improve the lives of marginalized individuals, specifically members of the Black LGBTQ+ community. He is the associate director of HIV Prevention Services at APLA Health and oversees several government-funded programs that provide HIV and STI prevention strategies to persons most at-risk for infection. Most important, he is a minister within the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship who uses his voice to restructure how Black communities engage in conversations about sex, sexual behavior, and human sexuality in hopes of creating sexually inclusive spaces that fuel holistic approaches to wellness.
Khadijah Abdullah is a Muslim, public health professional, entrepreneur, activist, and seeker of doing good. She is the founder of Reaching All HIV+ Muslims In America (RAHMA), a nonprofit that addresses HIV, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), Sexual Health, and Gender-Based Violence in faith communities through education, advocacy, and empowerment. Khadijah is also the founder of the federally recognized National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Khadijah currently works as the Senior Senior Clinical Research Coordinator in the HIV Prevention and Treatment Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC.
Eric O. Reece (He, Him, They) is the Akansas State Director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBTQ + civil rights organization. Currently, he serves as the chair of the Arkansas HIV Reform Coalition. Eric is a cultural organizer and community advocate who has a lifelong passion for justice, equity, and arts/culture. His expertise extends into areas of public policy, public health advocacy, as well as grassroots community coalition building that solves structural inequities around health, race, gender, sexual orientation, and education.
Sultana Ocasio is the director of the Community Kitchen and Food Pantry in West Harlem, NY. Her work centers on access to basic needs through a community and faith-based approach. Ms. Ocasio's past work includes hosting the first National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the state of New York and creating a Muslim-focused HIV resource guide and toolkit. Ms. Ocasio has worked closely with the Latino Commission on AIDS and National Black Leadership Commission on Health to address education and destigmatization of HIV both on the community level and among Muslims in New York City.
W. Imara Canady is a highly respected executive leader, nationally known for building partnerships and collaborations that have a sustainable community impact. He currently serves as Chair of the Black Leadership AIDS Crisis Coalition (BLACC) and is recognized for his leadership in national HIV/AIDS service and advocacy efforts. Prior to his work in HIV, Imara served as the Area Development Director for the Atlanta Regional Office of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and he was Vice-President of Programming and Strategic Partnerships for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. An active member of the Baha’i’ Faith, Imara lives his life in accordance with a quote from the Holy Writings that state “service to humanity is like service to the Kingdom of God.”
To learn more about how you can partner with the HVTN Faith Initiative, contact us here.