Science- and Evidence-Based Approaches
In our work, TAG is committed to science as an evidence based method of inquiry for evaluating propositions about the world around us. We believe democratic decision making and policy should be informed by data and evidence. We value the scientific method, while recognizing access to the means of inquiry is rooted in historical and social conditions, including colonization, racism, and the destruction of Indigenous knowledge and technologies. We acknowledge scientific institutions and practices are not yet free from racism, sexism, and homophobia. We value ethical judgement in science that respects the rights and dignity of research participants, patients, colleagues and communities. We believe all have a human right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits, including essential medicines, diagnostics and preventative technologies. Therefore, we strive to enable science for the public good, producing knowledge in the public domain, available without cost barriers or discrimination.
TAG’s theory of change centers on the premise that achieving the quality, high-impact science and care needed to end the pandemics of HIV, HCV, and TB requires increased funding, conducive policy environments, and engaged communities. These factors come together in activism grounded in human rights and led by research-literate activists who follow the science and can analyze and represent research and policy needs to governments and developers and serve as allies committed to working in partnership with affected communities.
In our work, TAG strives to be open — open to new scientific and historical evidence; open to evolving political challenges, constant change and innovative evidence-based policy interventions; open to constructive criticism and debate. We work to be non-hierarchical and center the voices of those with lived experience, including historically marginalized communities. We are open to everyone’s viewpoints in our work — especially communities affected by and with lived experiences of HIV, TB, and HCV — and to the viewpoints of our colleagues, comrades, and allies. We are open to learning from mistakes, correcting course, and learning to new ways of doing things. We strive for transparency in governance and about decision-making and funding sources (both within TAG and in what we expect from partners and other entities). We are open about our sources of information and committed to clear referencing in all our work. All TAG publications, and whenever possible, peer-reviewed publications are open-source and available to all under a CC BY-NC-ND creative commons license.
TAG’s research, prevention, treatment, and policy equity activism to ensure affordable and universal access to high quality, optimal treatments, diagnostics, and vaccines for HIV, TB, and HCV, consistently advocates for open collaboration and participation in scientific research throughout the conceptualization, technology, and policy development processes. Similar to the benefits of science through collaboration, our thought leadership and desired outcomes in TAG’s focus disease areas are founded in a culture of collaboration, based on trust and respect, among our staff, board, respective communities, partners, and allies. We recognize our strengths as speaking critical and technical truths to power and working across diverse groups and disciplines to advance treatment activism strategies. By working collaboratively, intersectionally, and in coalition we advance our vision and catalyze the changes we demand in research, policy, programs, and practices.
TAG’s work is founded in the belief that respect for all persons is a key foundation of equitable human society and of research ethics. Respect for all persons demands that every individual’s autonomy, dignity, and rights are respected. Respect does not mean being always deferential or polite – and at times it can mean confronting people about their misguided beliefs or actions. Centering affected community voices means that our respect for affected communities and for a diversity of viewpoints will sometimes mean keeping silent and listening to others before speaking ourselves. Respect requires that the participants in research or policy and the communities the research or policy are intended to benefit are equal participants in planning, carrying out, and disseminating the results of research and policy initiatives. Respect requires us to be fair and equitable in our compensation policies and with partners, colleagues, allies, and vendors. Respect for gender equity and autonomy requires that everyone be able to identify and be referred to by the pronouns that reflect their gender identity. Respect leads us to openly acknowledge where TAG facilities are located on Indigenous Americans’ land. In the largest sense, respect requires us to work for environmental justice and for the preservation and conservation of the Earth and all life.
TAG works to create environments where staff, board members, and partners feel safe to learn, voice opinions, and express feelings, different views and/or dissent. Central to TAG’s mission and vision are policy, political, community, research, and health system environments that nurture the well-being of all people — and particular those most affected by HIV, TB, HCV. Respect and health require us to create a nurturing environment for all TAG staff and contractors, in terms of benefits and work environment, including: full-time staff compensation packages that include health, vision, mental, dental insurance coverage for both staff and their dependents; consulting fees built with an awareness of the consultants’ well-being; staff policies and procedures created and revised in a participatory fashion (openness); generous vacation time and encouraging staff to fully use their vacation / leave to support their well-being / life-work balance; support for staff continuing professional development; facilitation and provision of incentives for staff to invest in their retirement. We respect as part of this nurturing environment the planet, the environment, and all life on Earth. We support restorative justice for all communities which have experienced and are experiencing ongoing, systemic, and structural discrimination, inequity, and racism. We support support , policies that reduce and seek to eliminate harm and build and promote mental, physical, and community health and wellness.
Alicia Garza, who framed the concept “Black Lives Matter,” defines power as “the ability to make decisions that affect your own life and lives of others. . .and having the ability to reward, punish, and decide how resources are distributed.” TAG approaches sharing power with this analysis in mind, understanding that power is built personally, shared between individuals and with communities, and directly influenced by the institutions that overlap heavily with our mission. Through sharing power, we can meaningfully engage, build the leadership of, and take direction from the communities most impacted by HIV, HCV, and TB. At the same time, power-sharing with marginalized communities requires challenging the unequal distributions of resources intrinsic to U.S. and global public health efforts. TAG gives back to the margins by centering the communities most impacted in short and long term employment opportunities and through advocating for global, federal, and local resources that can not only end HIV, HCV, and TB but also help people living with or impacted by these issues connect and build their own power.
Centering Affected Community Voices
As an organization founded by people living with and directly affected by HIV, we recognize lived experience as an essential form of expertise in health activism. Individuals and communities who are most directly affected by HIV, tuberculosis, and hepatitis C must be part of the leadership of all research and policy initiatives which have the potential to impact their lives. This leadership must consist of direct decision-making power and visibility. We honor the activist legacies and continued leadership within communities of color, queer and trans communities, people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration, people who use drugs, sex workers, and many more that work to improve people’s lives and health. We commit to centering the perspectives and power of these individuals and communities in all of our work.
Health is an integral part of our everyday lives. Health, and being healthy is the foundation of what we aspire to work towards at TAG. We value the health of our employees by ensuring that their wellbeing is considered in the work that we do. The health of our partner communities is important to us as is the health of TAG staff, board members, allies, partners, vendors, and colleagues.
Human rights provide us with frameworks to think with, equip us with tools to sharpen our organizing and advocacy, and establish entitlements which we hold governments and other actors accountable for fulfilling. We believe that the right to science is a fundamental human right and instrumental to the realization of other rights, including the right to health, and to human liberation. We locate human rights in international law but see beyond their legal and institutional dimensions to recognize how human rights express the moral and ethical commitments we hold ourselves and others accountable to meeting. Our human rights work begins with the right of everyone to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications without discrimination.
Access for All / Distributive Justice
The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, generally referred to as the right to health, entails that everyone should have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship. Ending the HIV, TB, and HCV pandemics require global equitable access to high quality prevention, treatment and diagnostics for all. As an organization committed to racial, gender, and LGBTQ+ equity; social justice; and liberation we fight for equitable, just, and fair allocation of resources to guarantee access to health care and health technologies for all.
Institutionalized and historical white supremacy embedded in global and domestic policies, institutions, systems and structures continue to drive deep disparities in HIV, TB, HCV and other health conditions. Racial injustice intersects strongly with many different forms of oppression and marginalization – and therefore reversing historical and current injustice must be central to our efforts to prioritize health, liberation and human rights of Black people and other communities of color. Doing so requires naming and identifying harms, pursuing the work of dismantling of racist systems and policies, advocating for structural transformation in access to healthcare and social services, and a shifting of political power and material resources. Such work is premised on acting in solidarity, in coalition, and in collaboration with communities and tying the vision of a world free of HIV, TB, and HCV into the movement for racial justice. Only through collective power can we achieve a radical vision for racial justice. TAG thanks the HIV Racial Justice Now (HRJN) coalition for establishing this framework.
 The Advisory Committee of the People with AIDS. The Denver Principles,1983. https://data.unaids.org/pub/externaldocument/2007/gipa1983denverprinciples_en.pdf
 Garza, A. The purpose of power: how we come together when we fall apart. New York: One World/Penguin Random House; 2020. p. 186.