January 13, 2000
Chicago, Illinois (USA) -- The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) has appointed José Zuniga as its executive director to lead the professional membership organization into the new century. He succeeds Gordon Nary, who headed the association since its inception in February, 1995. IAPAC is a nonprofit membership organization representing the interests of over 6,800 physicians and other healthcare professionals in 43 countries.
Zuniga has announced an aggressive educational and advocacy agenda for IAPAC in 2000. The lead advocacy initiative will be the recognition of HIV as a medical subspecialty. IAPAC has launched an exploratory mission polling US physicians in 23 states about their interest in an HIV subspecialty. This exploratory phase of IAPAC's physician-led initiative will guide the association's activities and potential collaborations with other professional groups around this issue in 2000.
"There has been a recurring question in the medical community about whether HIV should have its own medical subspecialty to allow for the long overdue recognition of the special expertise required by HIV/AIDS-treating physicians to continue to ensure quality care for their patients living with HIV disease. As a professional association whose membership is primarily HIV/AIDS-treating physicians, it is only natural that IAPAC take the lead in addressing the issue of core clinical competency," said Zuniga.
Other key new initiatives include launching an Internet-based, bidirectional medical exchange program in southern Africa; establishing IAPAC chapters in the United States and internationally; transforming the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care into a peer-reviewed journal; and developing a speaker's bureau comprised of IAPAC members.
"Fulfilling IAPAC's mission demands new approaches, new resources, new commitments, and new partnerships. In an era defined by a celebration of technology -- medical and otherwise -- I am determined to see that IAPAC capitalizes on the commitment, courage, determination, and perseverance of our members around the globe to advance a vision of the world in which people living with HIV/AIDS and associated diseases can access medical and psychosocial care," said Zuniga.
IAPAC's agenda commitments for 2000 and beyond include:
"José Zuniga's appointment reflects our confidence that IAPAC enters the 21st century with the leadership to meet the tremendous challenges that lie ahead. José articulates an all-encompassing respect for the dignity and value of human life and possesses leadership talents necessary in this position, including advocacy and coalition building," said IAPAC Board of Trustees Chair Allen Freehling.
Zuniga joined IAPAC in August 1997 as the association's deputy director, charged with developing and implementing the association's international advocacy program. Under Zuniga's leadership, IAPAC established partnerships with such institutions as the World Bank, UNAIDS, World Health Organization, and European Commission; brokered agreements for IAPAC's role as independent observer and official monitor of three international drug access initiatives; and hosted three international conferences aimed at finding solutions to the burgeoning global crisis in access to HIV/AIDS-specific and -related drugs, technologies, and healthcare services.
Zuniga founded and serves as executive director of the Humanitas Foundation, a nonprofit public foundation promoting health innovation through philanthropic grants awarded to IAPAC physician, healthcare professional, and affiliated members. He serves as political editor of the Journal of the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, is a visiting lecturer at the Medical University of South Africa through their Secure the Future fellowship program, and regularly lectures on HIV/AIDS clinical and public policy issues at conferences and university seminars.
Prior to joining IAPAC, Zuniga served as director of communications at AIDS Action Council/AIDS Action Foundation in Washington, D.C.