The role of academia in the global AIDS response
19 September 2007
The important role of academic organizations in the global AIDS response was underlined on Tuesday 18 September in a special lecture given at Washington D.C.’s Howard University by UNAIDS Executive Director Dr Peter Piot.
Addressing students, faculty, community members and journalists, Dr Piot praised Howard University for its commitment to confronting HIV in Washington, D.C. – one of the areas most affected by AIDS in the United States, with approximately one in twenty of the city’s residents living with HIV.
“This university has done so much to raise awareness to unmet needs at every level of society – and you have been a great partner in the global fight against AIDS. Faculty and students at Howard are addressing HIV on multiple fronts as scholars, scientists and activists,” said Dr Piot. “The world must follow your example. That is the only way we will ever get ahead of this epidemic,” he added.
Howard University’s hospital was the first in the United States to routinely offer HIV testing to all patients; its law students run a legal clinic for people living with HIV; and the university recently convened a conference on the global AIDS response.
In his speech, sponsored by the National Minority AIDS Council, D.C.-based AIDS service organization the Women’s Collective, and Howard’s Student Health Center and Women’s Health Institute, the UNAIDS Executive Director also highlighted the important role of the United States in funding the global AIDS response.
“PEPFAR [the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] enabled us to make a quantum leap forward against AIDS,” Dr Piot said. “With PEPFAR, the global discussion about responding to AIDS stopped being about ‘millions’ and started being about ‘billions.’ PEPFAR runs out next year, giving the United States a unique opportunity to continue its support of a truly global effort.
”Later this week, Dr. Piot will speak at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington. He will also travel to Boston to give the keynote speech at a symposium at Harvard University Medical School on children and AIDS.