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University Launches Campus-Wide Initiative Aimed at Combating HIV/AIDS

April 16, 2012 - The University of Maryland Baltimore, led by its world-renowned Institute of Human Virology (IHV), will bring together faculty and students from all six of the University's professional schools for a campus-wide initiative aimed at addressing the crisis of HIV. The initiative will position the University and Baltimore at the forefront of achieving the goals of the President's National HIV and AIDS Strategy (NHAS).

The day-long event -- the University of Maryland Leadership in HIV Summit: Preparing the Future -- included student displays reflecting how being better informed about HIV has impacted their lives, a campus-wide plenary, breakout sessions and a community partnership town hall that is open to the public. The summit also used interactive discussion to address how each professional school can mobilize to achieve national goals in a multi-disciplinary format.

"This is an example of how interprofessional education adds value to the education of our students and improves the quality of care for our patients by enhancing respect for the contributions of all professions," says Jay A. Perman, MD, president of the University of Maryland. "We are excited by the opportunity to see how each of our schools can contribute to meeting the goals of the national HIV and AIDS Strategy."

The initiative builds on a coordinated educational effort that began last year with a partnership led by the Institute of Human Virology's JACQUES Initiative and coordinated in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the University of Maryland School of Nursing and Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Infectious Disease and Environmental Health Administration with funding from Gilead Science's HIV FOCUS program, to foster a multi-disciplinary HIV-focused curriculum, "Preparing for the Future" (PTF). The goal of PTF is to train emerging leaders through a hands-on curriculum to integrate HIV into their future practice. IHV's JACQUES Initiative is a program that provides a comprehensive spectrum of HIV services to include diagnosis, outreach, treatment and supportive services to people living with HIV/AIDS at the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), located on the University of Maryland Baltimore campus and directed and co-founded by Dr. Robert C. Gallo who co-discovered HIV as the cause of AIDS and developed the HIV blood test.

"Today my colleagues and I have an important strategic meeting with IHV's collaborators on our promising HIV preventive vaccine candidate," says Dr. Gallo. "It is no coincidence this summit is taking place on the same day as such an important meeting. From cutting edge science to novel education curriculums, IHV is a leader in the field in every regard. Congratulations to the JACQUES Initiative and University collaborators on the success of Preparing the Future."

"The Preparing the Future Program represents an incredible opportunity for academic campuses like the University of Maryland to train emerging professionals to address the crisis of HIV through disciplines such as social work, nursing, law, dentistry, pharmacy and medicine," says Derek Spencer , Executive Director of the JACQUES Initiative. "Students receive a creative curriculum that includes training to perform rapid HIV testing, didactic and multidisciplinary lectures and conferences on HIV with a service learning approach that allows students to engage directly with the community. Students experiences have been transformative and increase our capacity to fulfill the goals of the NHAS."

The goals of the National HIV and AIDS strategy that the summit will address include reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, reducing HIV-related health disparities and inequities and achieving a more coordinated response to the national HIV epidemic . Mirroring the national strategy, Baltimore's HIV Strategy calls for reducing HIV/AIDS by 25 percent locally by 2015. The Summit will highlight each of the University of Maryland's professional schools, their role in the fight against HIV and provide opportunities for students and faculty to come together to adopt new approaches that magnify the impacts of both their personal and collective efforts to advance the goals of the national HIV and AIDS strategy through a campus-wide HIV strategy.

"The Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is an international leader in HIV research, patient care and education," says E. Albert Reece, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., vice president for medical affairs at the University of Maryland and John Z. and Akiko K. Bowers Distinguished professor and dean, University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Our physician scientists are working diligently around the world and in our laboratories in Baltimore to learn more about the virus, how to prevent and treat it. It makes sense that we share this expertise with our colleagues here at the university to foster new ideas and impact this chronic disease from every angle that we can."

"Through this interdisciplinary initiative, more than 80 nursing students have been prepared for roles as HIV testers and counselors," says Janet D. Allan, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing. "They have helped develop HIV testing clinics in some of Baltimore's most vulnerable neighborhoods and integrated HIV testing into nursing clinics, health fairs, and other disease prevention efforts in the City, thus increasing the number of people who know their HIV status. This is a win-win situation: our students are learning and then passing their knowledge on to some of our most at risk citizens."

Since 2011, over 100 medical and nursing students and faculty have participated in the "Preparing the Future" program's curriculum. Several hundred students and faculty are expected to participate in the campus-wide Leadership in HIV Summit whose goals also include reaching out to the University's community partners to involve other professionals and members of the public in awareness and activities that advance the strategies against HIV beginning with the Town Hall meeting at the end of the day-long gathering. The PTF program also aims to extend to other universities across the country through its sustainable and transformative model.

About the Institute of Human Virology (IHV)

Formed in 1996 as a partnership between the State of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, the University System of Maryland and the University of Maryland Medical System, IHV is an institute of the University of Maryland School of Medicine and is home to some of the most globally-recognized and world-renowned experts in all of virology. IHV is the first center in the United States to combine the disciplines of basic research, epidemiology and clinical research in a concerted effort to speed the discovery of diagnostics and therapeutics for a wide variety of chronic and deadly viral and immune disorders - most notably the HIV virus that causes AIDS.


Source: Institute of Human Virology
University of Maryland School of Medicine

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