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30 Years of AIDS: HIV/AIDS Physicians Available for Comment

May 16, 2011 (WASHINGTON): Sunday, June 5, marks the 30th anniversary of the first reports of HIV/AIDS cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on June 5, 1981, wrote about five cases of Pneumocystis pneumonia among five previously healthy young gay men at three different hospitals in Los Angeles, marking the beginning of the AIDS pandemic.

June 8 - 10 also marks the United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS, likely to be the last UN meeting on AIDS, in New York City with the aim of developing a declaration that will speak to progress and unmet need in terms of reaching universal access goals.

The following expert physician-scientists are well-versed on the domestic HIV epidemic and have extensive familiarity with global efforts to control the pandemic.

Myron Cohen, MD - Chapel Hill, NC
Myron Cohen, MD, is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health and the Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Cohen is the principal investigator for the HIV clinical trial HPTN 052 which found that the use of antiretrovirals by HIV-infected individuals with relatively healthy immune systems dramatically reduces the risk of transmission to their sexual partners.

Dr. Cohen saw his first HIV-infected patient at the University of North Carolina in 1981. UNC managed thousands of patients with hemophilia and he was asked to see a young man with enlarged lymph nodes. He recognized the symptoms of the new disease, and UNC convened an emergency meeting that same week, although no prevention or therapy was available at the time. "Subsequently and quickly we suffered a large and tragic and well-documented epidemic of HIV in this population."

Carlos del Rio, MD - Atlanta
Carlos del Rio, MD, is Chair of the Hubert Department of Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Professor of Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. del Rio is active in several federally-funded HIV clinical trials networks. He continues to see patients with HIV infection in Atlanta and is active in international HIV/AIDS and TB work in Mexico, the Republic of Georgia, Vietnam and Ethiopia.

In 1981 Dr. del Rio was in his last year of medical school in Mexico and came to Emory University for six months as a senior. Shortly thereafter he started his internal medicine residency. "I thought I wanted to be a Cardiologist, but I encountered patients with this 'new disease' and it became totally captivating."

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH - New York City (Harlem)
Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH is the founding director of ICAP at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and a professor of epidemiology and medicine at Columbia University. Through ICAP, she oversees global HIV prevention, care and treatment programs in 16 countries. She is actively engaged in clinical research on HIV/AIDS domestically and internationally.

In 1981 Dr. El-Sadr was a young physician, having just finished her training in infectious diseases and working in New York City at Harlem Hospital Center when the onslaught of new cases starting coming. Dr. El-Sadr was chief of infectious diseases at Harlem Hospital Center for two decades and has witnessed the evolution of the epidemic from the beginning. She was instrumental in setting up HIV programs to serve the Harlem community.

Carol Hamilton, MD - Research Triangle Park, NC
Carol Hamilton, MD, is a senior scientist with FHI-a global health and development agency that implements HIV and other global health and development programs in developing countries across the globe. She is a research professor at Duke University and has been engaged as a clinician and research scientist in HIV and tuberculosis for decades.

Dr. Hamilton was a first-year medical student at the University of Utah in 1981. "I watched first hand as the HIV epidemic unfolded, including early hysteria and fear among the public, and among nurses, doctors and hospital administrators. I shared the pain of stigma and isolation that my patients endured when friends and family abandoned them. We lived with unbelievable mortality rates among young people who should have had their whole lives ahead of them. I said at one point that I felt like I was a mid-wife for death - my major goal, once that point came in a patient's life, which it inevitably did, was to help deliver him or her from this side to the next with as much dignity, control and comfort as possible. I became pretty good at it - we all had a lot of practice."

Kenneth H. Mayer, MD - Boston, MA and Providence, RI
Ken Mayer, MD, is a professor of medicine and community health at Brown University and Director of the AIDS program there. He is also the Medical Research Director of the Fenway Health Center in Boston where he has conducted numerous HIV research studies over nearly three decades.

Dr. Mayer started his Infectious Diseases fellowship at Harvard in 1980, and also worked as a sexually transmitted diseases (STD) consultant at Fenway Health, the largest center taking care of gay men in New England. "When I read the MMWR report of the first cases of AIDS in New York and California, I felt a chill, since many of the men I was seeing with syphilis and other STDs had similar histories. Within three months, I saw some of the first patients with AIDS in New England, which led to a lifetime career in AIDS research and care. We were among the first groups to use the antibody test and to study the factors associated with HIV transmission. It has been gratifying to be involved in the first study demonstrating the efficacy of pre-exposure prophylaxis."


For more information or to schedule an interview with one of our physician-scientist experts, contact Meredith Mazzotta
at 703-740-4954 or

The Center for Global Health Policy
The Center for Global Health Policy, established by the Infectious Diseases Society of America's Education & Research Foundation in 2008, supports and promotes U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis around the world. The Center provides scientific and policy information to U.S. policymakers, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the news media, linking decision-makers to the latest evidence-based input and guidance from physician/scientists and other professionals from both developing and developed countries. For more information visit

Reproduced with permission - "Center for Global Health Policy "

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