Positively Aware magazine hosted its first in a series of webinars, “A Matter of Justice: COVID-19 Vaccines and Health Inequities in PLHIV,” on March 4th at 4pm ET. The latest data on COVID-19 vaccine research and people living with HIV, COVID-19 health disparities and inequities, and a community and advocacy perspective were discussed. Presenters included Stephaun Wallace, PhD, Director of External Relations, HIV Vaccine Trials Network/COVID-19 Prevention Network and Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health, University of Washington; Richard Jefferys, Basic Science, Vaccines & Cure Project Director, Treatment Action Group; Gina Brown of Southern AIDS Coalition; and Christopher Hucks-Ortiz of Black AIDS Institute. Made possible through support from Janssen; co-sponsored by Treatment Action Group (TAG) and HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN).
Richard Jefferys, Basic Science, Vaccines & Cure Project Director, Treatment Action Group
In his current role as TAG’s Basic Science, Vaccines and Cure Project Director, Richard Jefferys is particularly focused on HIV cure research education and advocacy. Among the project’s most widely used and cited resources is the regularly updated listing of HIV cure-related clinical trials and studies on the TAG website, which Richard created in 2014 as a spin-off from our annual Pipeline Reports. Richard represents TAG on the International AIDS Society Towards an HIV Cure Advisory Board, the amfAR Cure Council and the DARE Collaboratory Community Advisory Board.
Richard began working in the HIV field in 1994 at the AIDS Treatment Data Network in NYC, helped establish the Health GAP Coalition in 1999, and has written for a wide range of publications.
Stephaun Wallace, PhD, Director of External Relations, HIV Vaccine Trials Network/COVID-19 Prevention Network, Clinical Assistant Professor, Global Health, University of Washington
Dr. Stephaun Wallace is an expert in developing, implementing and evaluating major public health and human service programs in the areas of prevention, care and treatment of HIV/ AIDS and other infectious diseases. He is the Director of External Relations of both the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and the COVID-19 Prevention Network. These international clinical trials networks, whose operations are based at Fred Hutch, conduct studies of investigational vaccines and other agents intended to protect people from these diseases. Dr. Wallace leads the networks’ external relations strategies and efforts globally, with a focus on building long-term relationships with key stakeholders. His strategies create opportunities for consultation with stakeholder communities to inform the design and implementation of the networks’ studies and to optimize the participation of those who bear the greatest burdens of HIV and of COVID-19. An internationally recognized leader and speaker in public health and social justice, Dr. Wallace has more than two decades of experience in sexual and public health, social justice, and community mobilization within diverse populations globally. He views public health work through a social justice lens to understand how population-level health is affected by structural and social factors like stigma, racism, sexism, historical trauma and inequalities in education and income.
Dr. Wallace received his M.S. in 2012 from Colorado Technical University and his Ph.D. in public health epidemiology in 2018 from Walden University. He came to Fred Hutch in 2013.
Gina Brown, Community Engagement Manager, Southern AIDS Coalition
Gina Brown has worked in the field of HIV for 18 years and has been living with HIV for 26 years. Gina graduated Magna Cum Laude from Southern University at New Orleans, with a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in History in 2011. She received her Master’s degree in Social Work in 2012. Gina is a former member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Gina has served on numerous boards and committees. She currently serves on Sister Song Board of Directors, Black AIDS Institute Board of Directors, and The Well Project Community Advisory Board. Gina is a Public Speaker and Community Advocate. She has appeared in many magazines and publications. Gina is an Ambassador for the Greater than AIDS Initiative, appearing in the Women, HIV, and Intimate Partner Violence video. Gina truly believes in service work and has made it her life’s mission to help the broader community gain a higher level of health literacy.
Christopher Hucks-Ortiz, MPH, Director of HIV and Clinical Services for the Black AIDS Institute (BAI)
Mr. Hucks-Ortiz is responsible for implementing and expanding BAI’s direct service work and ensuring that all clinics, HIV prevention, and linkage to care programming and partnerships run efficiently and effectively. In this role, Mr. Hucks-Ortiz continues to use his expertise in community-based HIV prevention and treatment research to support the development of culturally relevant and evidence-based services and protocols.
Mr. Hucks-Ortiz is the former Manager of the Social Services Division at the Dignity Health-St. Mary Medical Center CARE Clinic where he managed all of the social services programming to help address many of the structural and social determinants of health that impact the lives of people living with HIV or vulnerable to HIV acquisition. He has several years of experience in evaluating HIV prevention, treatment, and substance abuse programming. He also has a very strong background in the ethical conduct of HIV clinical trials for racial, ethnic, and sexual minority populations.
Mr. Hucks-Ortiz received a BS from California State University, Los Angeles in Health Sciences with an emphasis in Community Health Education, and an MPH from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is actively engaged in the HIV Prevention Trials Network, serving as current Chair of the HPTN Black Caucus, a member of the Steering Committee of the HPTN Community Working Group, and is the Community Representative to the HPTN Science Review Committee. He also serves as a member of the HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC) Legacy Project Working Group. Mr. Hucks-Ortiz also consults with other researchers to promote the cultural capacity of community-based research protocols for African American and Hispanic/Latino populations.