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Invisible Barriers: Racism/ Stigma & Surviving a Pandemic (HIV + COVID-19), March 2, 1-2pm PST

Stigma, racism, homophobia, transphobia and many other forms of discrimination are often invisible barriers that communities of color face on a daily basis. It can interfere with their access to medical services, physical, mental and sexual health, as well as influencing whether or not to return for another medical visit. Please join our HIV/STI Sexual Health Program, Me Cuido, Te Cuido, as we discuss with our guest panel  how invisible barriers including racism and stigma impact health outcomes for communities of color during a pandemic.


José Beltran, HIV/ STI Sexual Health Program Coordinator, Familias en Acción


Dr. Jonathan Garcia

Dr. Allison Mathews

Dr. Roberto Orellana



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 Dr. Jonathan Garcia, PhD 

Assistant Professor

Global Health, Program Director

School of Biological and Population Health Sciences

College of Public Health and Human Sciences, OSU

Dr. Jonathan Garcia is Assistant Professor and Director of the Global Health Program in the College of Public Health and Human Science at Oregon State University. His community-engaged research addresses the cultural and political factors that drive psychosocial health disparities among socially marginalized groups, especially LGBTQ+ Latinx and Black communities in the USA and globally. As Director of the Engaging the Next Latinx Allies for Change and Equity (ENLACE) program, he is using global strategies to combat social isolation and bullying against LGBTQ+ youth of color participating in Oregon 4-H outreach programs. His past work includes a comparative ethnography of the role of religious organizations mobilizing HIV prevention and care in Brazil, and a project to advance acceptance and uptake of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis among Black men who have sex with men in New York City.


 Dr. Allison Mathews, PhD 

Executive Director

Gilead COMPASS Faith Coordinating Center, School of Divinity,

Wake Forest University

Dr. Allison Mathews serves as Executive Director and Research Fellow in Faith and Health. She previously served as the Associate Director of Integrating Special Populations in the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at Wake Forest Baptist Health. She specializes in integrating technology, social marketing, community engagement and social science to examine the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality and religiosity on HIV-related stigma and to innovate clinical research engagement and access to health care for underserved populations. Dr. Mathews has been invited to speak about HIV and COVID-19 on national and international platforms, including TEDxCaryWomen. Dr. Mathews and Ms. Kimberly Knight co-founded and had December 14 officially declared by the state of North Carolina as HIV Cure Research Day to raise awareness about HIV cure research and encourage community involvement in ending the HIV epidemic. Her most recent work focused on engaging communities in COVID-19 related studies to raise awareness about COVID-19 vaccines, connect people affected by COVID-19 to wrap-around services, and better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on underserved communities.


In addition to research, Dr. Mathews is an entrepreneur. She is the Founder and CEO of Community Expert Solutions, a consulting company that develops community-based ideas into revenue generating projects that solve health problems. They developed Digital LinCS, an online case management system that matches and connects people to free and reduced medication and assists in managing provider case loads more efficiently. She earned her BA in Sociology from Howard University, and her MA and PhD in Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill. She completed her postdoctoral work at UNC Chapel Hill in the Department of Social Medicine and the Institute for Global Health and Infectious Disease.

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 Dr. Roberto Orellana, PhD 

Professor of Social Work and Public Health, Portland State University

Co-Principal Investigator of the Portland arm of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Project

E. Roberto Orellana, PhD, MPH, MSW, is the Associate Dean for Research and Sponsored Projects at Portland State University’s School of Social Work (PSU-SSW). He’s also an affiliate faculty in Public Health and Indigenous Nations Studies at PSU. He’s held visiting research scientist appointments at UCSD’s Department of Global Public Health, and Oregon State University’s College of Public Health. Internationally, he works with several indigenous organizations, and is a member of the Board of Directors of a research and education non-profit organization in Guatemala, and he’s also served on the Research Advisory Council of the International Indigenous Working Group on HIV/AIDS. Both of these international institutions are dedicated to HIV prevention and health promotion among indigenous populations throughout the globe.


Dr. Orellana is indigenous Maya, born in Guatemala. He’s spent most of his life living in the ancestral lands of the Duwamish and Chinook people in today’s Washington State and Oregon (USA). He’s also lived in New York City and Lima, Peru.

As an indigenous researcher, he has worked with community partners on several epidemiologic and mixed methods studies with indigenous populations in the Amazon jungle of Peru, the Highlands of Guatemala, and Indigenous Nations in the U.S. More recently, he examined the nature and impact of structural factors (social, political, environmental) on substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors among vulnerable groups in the Mexico/Guatemala border region. 

COVID-19 Related Work

As part of the national and international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on American Indian/Alaska Natives, as well as other indigenous populations throughout the Americas, Dr. Orellana has been leading an effort to collect and disseminate COVID-19-related data that shows the impact of the pandemic on Native populations. Early on the outbreak, recognizing that the CDC and state health authorities were not providing disaggregated ethnic/racial data on COVID-19 cases and deaths, Dr. Orellana joined a national grass-roots effort to gather and report national data. The Covid Tracking Project ( was born out of that effort, led mostly by U.S. based journalists. Dr. Orellana became involved with the project as it began to collect data on racial/ethnic minorities, and focused on Native American data.

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