Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Conn., on Jan. 22 will host a one-day symposium about HIV/AIDS for members of the medical and scientific communities at Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital, as well as representatives from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, the New York Times reports. A performance of Long Wharf's play "Coming Home" -- which tells the story of a young single mother dying from AIDS-related causes -- will follow the symposium. The symposium will begin with a panel of top researchers who work on HIV/AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis and other diseases, and a second panel will include representatives from drug companies involved in these research areas. Michael Fuchs, former HBO chair and producer of the 1993 HIV/AIDS film "And the Band Played On," will moderate a discussion following the play.
David Scheer, the event's organizer and vice chair of Long Wharf's board of trustees, said the symposium aims to both "bring people to the theater" and "engage people in the subject of global health." He added the program will be successful if the play "enable[s] a dialogue that will influence people in the global health field and get people involved who aren't involved." Athol Fugard, a South African playwright and author of "Coming Home," said he would consider the symposium a success if the drug company representatives announce intentions to reduce the prices of antiretroviral drugs. According to Gerald Friedland, director of the HIV/AIDS program at Yale-New Haven Hospital, these types of programs "can't necessarily change government policy [on HIV/AIDS], but we can make people appreciate what the reality is of HIV/AIDS by bringing the situation into public view in a way that's gripping and inescapable." He added that such initiatives demonstrate how "theater and arts can be enormously important." Michael Cappello, Yale pediatrics professor and symposium participant, said that combining theater and science, particularly "around something like global health and HIV/AIDS," could affect the way researchers "view things moving forward" (Spiegel, New York Times, 1/18).
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