​Durham is known for being a hub for entrepreneurship, but it’s not as well known that Durham County has one of the largest populations of HIV-positive people in the country. It’s also the No. 3 county in North Carolina for newly-diagnosed HIV cases.

Allison Mathews, a Doctor of Sociology at the University of Chapel Hill, is trying to reverse those statistics, not only through research but by crowdsourcing a cure. The Research Triangle is a global center for HIV and AIDS research, with researchers at UNC and Duke studying new therapies and ways to prevent the disease from mutating, but Mathews thinks the community should be involved.

Mathews shared her vision for an initiative called 2BeatHIV this past Saturday at the Innovate Your Cool Conference, an event centered around music, innovation and culture and tied to the Art of Cool Festival in Durham. According to conference organizer Michael English, (who also works as ExitEvent’s sales associate), Mathews was invited because her work combines innovation, technology and art in a way that impacts the Durham, and potentially global, community. 

Mathews’ research project, which launched last year at the UNC Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, starts with online innovation contests and building awareness around HIV testing, so that affected patients can get medication for the disease. Its tagline is “Own the Cure.”

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