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Press Release

HIV and TB Scientists, Clinicians to Launch Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy and Advocacy

September 22, 2008

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) today announced the establishment of a new Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy and Advocacy, which will support and promote U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis throughout the world. The Center is made possible by a $1.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It will be housed within the IDSA Education and Research Foundation.

The Center will promote effective use of U.S. funding for addressing the global HIV/AIDS and TB epidemics by providing scientific and policy information to policymakers, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the media. The Center will ensure that key decision-makers have access to input and guidance from IDSA/HIVMA physician scientists and their colleagues from developing countries.

An estimated 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and more than 25 million have died from the disease. TB is one of the world's leading infectious disease killers, with about 9 million new cases and almost 2 million deaths each year. In the developing world, TB is the leading killer of people with HIV. The two epidemics fuel each other in a vicious cycle. People with HIV are more susceptible to getting sick and dying from TB if they are exposed, and TB bacteria accelerate the progression of HIV to AIDS.

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The Center's work will be overseen by a Scientific Advisory Committee of leading physicians and scientists with expertise on global HIV and TB. Co-chairs of the Committee will be Kenneth H. Mayer, MD, and Carol Dukes Hamilton, MD.  Dr. Mayer is professor of medicine and community health, Brown University; director, Brown University AIDS Program; attending physician, Miriam Hospital, Infectious Disease Division; medical research director, Fenway Community Health, Boston; principal investigator, Brown University/Tufts University/The Miriam Hospital Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program; and past HIVMA Board member.  Dr. Hamilton is associate professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center and IDSA's representative to the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development.

"The United States has been a bold leader in fighting HIV/AIDS worldwide, but it is now time to take that commitment to the next level by ramping up the U.S. response to the twin epidemics of tuberculosis and HIV, and by aggressively supporting research and programmatic measures to combat HIV-TB co-infection," Dr. Hamilton said. 

"The U.S. must support comprehensive, science-based global HIV prevention strategies, including making HIV screening routine for everyone, and incorporating prevention into the care and treatment of people who test positive for HIV," added Dr. Mayer.

"The U.S. plays a critical leadership role in the global response to HIV/AIDS and TB," said Joe Cerrell, director of Global Health Policy and Advocacy at the Gates Foundation. "By providing timely information and advice to policymakers, the new Center will provide tools that help ensure U.S. investments are as effective as possible, and guided by the latest scientific evidence."

The Center will be led by Christine Lubinski, who assumes the role of vice president for Global Health at IDSA. Lubinski previously served as executive director of HIVMA, where she spearheaded the Association's advocacy efforts including its support for reauthorization of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Andrea Weddle becomes executive director of HIVMA, after having served as associate director since HIVMA's inception in 2001.

"By bringing the medical and scientific community to the table, we have the opportunity to rally a powerful voice in support of a strong U.S. commitment to global infectious disease prevention and treatment," Lubinski said. "At a time when HIV/TB co-infection is threatening to undermine the progress made by antiretroviral therapy, that voice is more crucial now than ever before."

"The experience of IDSA and HIVMA members, coupled with the breadth of their medical knowledge and technical expertise, will prove invaluable to discussions among policymakers and civil society organizations," Weddle said.



  
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This article was provided by Infectious Diseases Society of America.
 
See Also
More on HIV Treatment in the Developing World
More News on Global HIV/AIDS

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