The Black AIDS Institute has added two board members committed to improving health-care delivery systems in LGBTQ and underserved communities.
David M. Cook, M.D.
Dr. David M. Cook, senior vice president of value-based care and a health-care futurist at Novant Health, is joining the Black AIDS Institute’s board after working on HIV/AIDS preventive events with BTAN (Black Treatment Advocates Network) Charlotte. Last fall, Dr. Cook accepted the Heroes in the Struggle Corporate Award on Novant Health’s behalf.
He considers it an honor to be the newest board member. “I feel this matches both my personal and professional goals around the eradication of health-care disparities and creating equitable and fair treatment for all individuals. It also is consistent with my goal as a physician to eradicate disease and reduce suffering in all communities,” Dr. Cook says.
At Novant Health, Dr. Cook works to improve health care in diverse populations. That includes alerting primary care physicians to their role in delivering pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). Many physicians are unaware of these preventive medical treatments.
“I hope to eradicate care barriers through advocacy, awareness, prevention and treatment within all medical communities around our country by helping to reduce any and all stigma held by medical professionals in delivering quality services to people affected and infected by HIV,” Dr. Cook adds. “I feel I will be the ideal liaison between Novant Health and the Black AIDS Institute by incorporating the work they have already started into what we at Novant are doing in the community and the region.”
David Munar received an HIV diagnosis in 1994, at age 24, and kept quiet about it even though he was working at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC). “At the time, the realities of stigma kept me from sharing my diagnosis with others,” he says. It would take another 10 years for him to talk about it and receive treatment.
Ultimately, Munar spent 23 years at AFC, working his way up from a clerical job to president and CEO, a position he held from 2011 to 2014. Today Munar is CEO of Howard Brown Health, a full-service community clinic where two-thirds of the patients are from the LGBTQ community—and the same organization where he received his HIV-positive diagnosis. Munar is also co-chair of the AIDS United board of directors. “As the Black AIDS Institute does more around health-care delivery, both in its policy and training work, and locally it’s starting to do more direct service work, I feel that’s where I can contribute because I’m deeply involved in health-care delivery.”
Munar, who is of Colombian descent, is aware of the social and emotional toll that an HIV-positive diagnosis can have on people in Black and Latino communities, and the fear-generated perceptions that the community may have as a result. He looks to his work on the board as an opportunity to devise strategies that can be well-received by both groups.
“You can’t make progress in the AIDS epidemic without making progress in the Black community,” he says. “If I can contribute to that effort, I’m grateful to do so.”
April Eugene is a Philadelphia-based writer.