Honoring Our Heroes 2002
The International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) recognized four leaders in the global battle against the AIDS pandemic during its annual Honoring Our Heroes tribute event held in Chicago, October 26, 2002, to coincide with the 40th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. IAPAC presented individual Hero In Medicine awards to three physicians who have long been in the fore of the struggle both within their respective countries and internationally, and also honored activist Zackie Achmat, in absentia, with the Jonathan Mann Health Human Rights Award.
As noted in the remarks given by IAPAC President/CEO José M. Zuniga, all four honorees are united by their respective efforts to bring the effective treatment that is now the standard in wealthier nations to HIV-infected men, women, and children in the developing world.
"The common thread connecting tonight's four honorees is that ... [t]hey are each working for improved HIV treatment in the countries and regions of the world where it is most desperately needed," Zuniga said. "Tonight's four honorees embody IAPAC's mission. They are working for solutions that recognize the dignity and sanctity of every life. Thus, they are natural choices for IAPAC's highest distinctions."
F. James Muller, who received one of the Hero in Medicine Awards, is head of the Metropolitan Department of Medicine in Pietermaritzburg (KwaZuluNatal, South Africa), administering hospitals in which as many as half of the patients are HIV-positive.
Another Hero in Medicine, George Janossy, professor at the Royal Free and University College Medical School (London, UK), has pioneered research into monitoring the progression of HIV infection; he also founded the organization AffordCD4 -- a collective of international HIV diagnostics specialists -- in an effort to make such monitoring possible in resource-limited settings.
John G. Bartlett, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine (Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.) and IAPAC's third 2002 Hero in Medicine, is renowned both within the United States and globally for his contributions to HIV research and clinical practice. Of additional note, Bartlett continues to collaborate with IAPAC in development of the Global AIDS Learning & Evaluation Network (GALEN), most recently assuming the role of Co-Chair of the GALEN Certification Committee along with Peter Mugyenyi of the Joint Centre for Clinical Research, in Kampala, Uganda.
Achmat's physical presence was missed at Honoring Our Heroes, but the spirit of sacrifice and commitment he represents was evident. Engaged in a "medication strike," Achmat, who is himself HIV-infected, is refusing antiretroviral treatment until southern African governments institute feasible plans to make antiretroviral drugs available to all who need them.
As a leader of South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, and a founding member of the Pan-African HIV/AIDS Treatment Action Movement, he has worked tirelessly, and effectively, to bring about such changes. Because complications of his illness made traveling to Chicago inadvisable, Achmat received the Jonathan Mann award from Mulamba Diese, Executive Director of IAPAC's Southern Africa Regional Office (IAPAC-SARO), in a special ceremony held in Johannesburg in November, 2002.
This article was provided by International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care. It is a part of the publication IAPAC Monthly.