Alabama: Cooperation Key in AIDS Fight, Experts Say -- White House Session Here One of Many Planned Across Nation
September 30, 2011
Birmingham played host Tuesday night to the first in a national series of White House-led strategy sessions on HIV/AIDS. The meeting of health care providers, researchers, public health officials, and community-based leaders was held in the city in part because of the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB)'s reputation for HIV/AIDS research, said Jeffrey Crowley, director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
As federal officials look to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, released in July 2010, they are seeking input on how to incorporate prevention and care research into HIV programs. "We have a lot of really rich research and people working on the AIDS effort, but we're kind of working independently," said Dr. Michael Saag, director of the UAB Center for AIDS Research.
The meeting centered on a panel discussion moderated by Saag. Panelists included representatives from the National Institutes of Health, the Health Resources and Services Administration, state and local health departments, and organizations such as the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC).
A common thread in the discussion was that people working to prevent and treat HIV must find ways to make health messages relevant to vulnerable populations, particularly in the South. An obstacle in the heavily religious region, said Steve Wakefield, who works to increase minority participation in HIV vaccine trials at FHCRC, is a fear of talking about sex.
"We like to talk about HIV as if it's a disease that's somehow divorced from sex, but for most of us, it's [an STD]," said Wakefield. "So to make sure that research is relevant to the lives of individuals, you really have to talk to people about sex."
Other meetings are scheduled this fall in Seattle, Philadelphia, Baton Rouge, and Des Moines. For more information, visit www.whitehouse.gov/onap.
09.28.2011; Hannah Wolfson
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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