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Oveta Fuller found a way to address the spread of HIV/AIDS at the intersection of faith and science. She intends to do the same for COVID-19.

Fuller, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, created the Trusted Messenger Intervention.

The program enlists ministers and other faith leaders in Black churches in African countries and the United States to help dispel myths and moral judgments about HIV and reinforce that it’s a preventable virus.

Now, Fuller, who was on the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee that reviewed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, has turned her attention to the ongoing pandemic and the low participation in minority communities in receiving the vaccine to fight the virus.

Black Americans, for example, were being vaccinated at half the rate of white Americans as of late January, a Kaiser Health News analysis found. Focus groups conducted by Kaiser found Black people distrust the health care system and fear systemic racism.

Fuller will bring her experience working with HIV/AIDS to a discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic and resistance to getting vaccinated in the next installment of the Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series, hosted by Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.

Fuller’s talk, “Navigating Pandemics: Trusted Messenger Perspectives on Coronavirus, COVID-19, and Vaccines,” will be presented virtually via Zoom at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 25.

Attendees should register online in advance.

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