What We Do


We offer training sessions, educational presentations, and technical assistance so that individuals and organizations are better equipped to effect systemic change.


We deliver training to groups interested in strengthening their advocacy and prevention skills. Examples include: storytelling as an advocacy tool, how to engage your legislators, advocacy letter writing, and more.


We speak at events across the country to expand issue knowledge and increase awareness of the impact of HIV on the South.

Technical Assistance

We provide technical assistance and ongoing administrative support to state-based advocacy networks in order to replicate successful campaigns, coordinate efforts, and effect systemic change.


Together, we are building a stronger grassroots movement that is more inclusive of people living with HIV, more representative of the diversity of the South and, ultimately, more effective at demanding the systemic policy changes and strategic investments necessary at the federal, state, and local levels. That’s how you end an epidemic.

We engage in direct federal advocacy to ensure the unique needs of the South are addressed in the national HIV response. We actively support policies designed to reduce HIV-related health disparities and promote greater health equity among people living with or at heightened risk for HIV. Our executive director, Nic Carlisle, is currently one of only 25 people appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, providing advice, information and recommendations to the President and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. We also represent the South on AIDS United’s Public Policy Committee and the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership.


We know that successful systemic change begins with grassroots organizing at the local level in support of critical issues that directly impact the health and wellness of the community. Nowhere is that more evident than within our own movement, where everyday people living with HIV forever changed the course of the epidemic. They stood up and demanded services that were responsive to their needs and to the realities of the experiences they lived. From the earliest days of the epidemic, the leadership of people living with HIV has profoundly influenced the planning of HIV prevention and care services on the national, state, and local levels.

While the needs of people living with HIV have evolved over time, their diverse perspectives and experiences continue to be an integral part of program planning and implementation at all levels. Here at SAC, we remain committed to the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV in all aspects of the response to the epidemic. That’s why we are leading the charge to ensure that people living with HIV in the South are engaged and their voices continue to be heard. Our community organizers, Khafre Kujichagulia Abif and Gina M. Brown, travel throughout the South, speaking at events, facilitating workshops, and connecting people living with HIV to each other, to state-based advocacy networks, and to the Southern AIDS Coalition.


Every January, our organizational members and board of directors meet to discuss SAC’s policy priorities for the upcoming year. In 2018, our federal policy priorities are:

  1. The Affordable Care Act

    We oppose any effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in whole or in part, without a simultaneous replacement that guarantees comprehensive coverage for Southerners living with HIV or other chronic conditions.

  2. Medicaid

    We oppose any effort to convert Medicaid from an entitlement program to a block grant or other funding structure that shifts significant costs to Southern states.

  3. Adequate Funding for Areas Most Affected by Epidemic

    We urge the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies to appropriately allocate public funding consistent with the geographic distribution of the HIV epidemic (while protecting or safeguarding the prevention and care infrastructure in rural and suburban areas with low incidence but high rates).

  4. Innovative Healthcare Models

    We urge the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies to invest in (or fund) innovative and culturally appropriate models that effectively care for Southerners living with HIV and prevent new infections among disproportionately impacted communities in the South. 

  5. Funding for HOPWA

    We urge Congress to allocate an additional $21 million to the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program to ensure that all 139 HOPWA jurisdictions can continue to serve existing households and prevent homelessness for people in danger of losing assistance.

  6. Ryan White

    We urge Congress to fully fund the Ryan White Program, the safety net for low-income people living with HIV. 


We partner with the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University to compile data and conduct research on the impact of HIV on the South.

We translate this research into action by using it to support our federal policy priorities, helping our advocacy networks develop evidence-based solutions for their states, and sharing our findings with PLHIV and their allies through presentations across the country.


As a Gilead COMPASS Coordinating Center, we provide community grants to organizations across the Southern United States to support the development of programs and activities that align with programmatic focus areas of the COMPASS Initiative. SAC is directly involved in two different funding mechanisms: SPARK! grants and Transformative grants.

To learn more about each type of grant, please click on the appropriate tab below.

Today, HIV is a chronic, manageable condition for many Americans. Despite significant progress in care and treatment, however, HIV-related stigma remains a significant challenge in the Deep South. For those of us living with HIV, stigma is associated with negative health outcomes like poor medication adherence and missed medical appointments. As a result, fewer of us receive timely medical care and treatment, fewer of us have our virus suppressed, and too many of us are missing out on the opportunity to preserve our health and avoid transmitting the virus to our partners. For those of us at risk for HIV, fear of stigma and discrimination often impacts our willingness to even get tested.

Despite numerous studies, we still have much to learn about HIV-related stigma. Nonetheless, we know that the stigma we experience often results from ignorance, fear-based myths, and a general lack of awareness in our communities. Public marketing campaigns were once an important strategy for changing knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around HIV and AIDS. Unfortunately, these campaigns are scarce in the Deep South and their messages often do not reflect the landmark scientific advances that have transformed what it means to live with HIV.

That’s why the Southern AIDS Coalition is excited to introduce SPARK! (Southerners Promoting Awareness and Real Knowledge), a grant program to fund community-led grassroots campaigns across the Deep South. With this program, we are turning to you as the expert on how to promote awareness and real knowledge around HIV and AIDS in your community. Funding for SPARK! campaigns range from $2,500 to $25,000, with the amount of funding reflective of the scope of the campaign and cost of planned media platforms.

SPARK! a conversation with your church.

SPARK! a change from your policymaker.

SPARK! awareness in your community.

Transformative grants are focused on supporting the development and implementation of programs and activities that address the three programmatic focuses of the COMPASS Initiative, including organizational capacity building, wellbeing, mental health, trauma-informed care, substance use, and HIV-related stigma reduction.