Ambassador Addresses HIV/AIDS Research Conference

Posted in GUMC Stories

China has greatly stepped up its response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the past decade, said Ambassador Eric Goosby, MD, who oversees implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Goosby delivered this message during his keynote address July 21 in Riggs Library for the conference, “The Frontier of HIV/AIDS Research in China,” sponsored by the Department of International Health at the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS).

“In my view, China has made really tremendous strides,” noted Goosby.

A Leadership Role

Some indicators of progress, the ambassador said, are growth in the number of antiretroviral clinics and people receiving treatment, an increase in methadone clinics and needle exchange programs, and specialized education for physicians and nurses who care for HIV/AIDS patients.

“The door to both treatment and prevention remains access to both counseling and testing,” he said.

Challenges remain, Goosby said, including reaching high-risk, stigmatized populations such as commercial sex workers and men who have sex with men.

“We look to China … to play a leadership role in the region,” he said.

Better Outcomes

Epidemiologist Zhihuan Jennifer Huang, PhD, associate professor of international health, directed the conference, which took place the day before the XIX International AIDS Conference began in Washington. Jesse Bump, PhD, assistant professor of international health, and Helena Manguerra (NHS’15), an international health major, assisted in coordinating the event.

“Our event helps leverage the confluence of policymakers, researchers, and activists to advance HIV prevention in China and promote better outcomes for persons living with HIV/AIDS,” Huang said.

The conference brought together well-known researchers from Chinese and U.S. institutions for a day of panel and poster presentations. The panels focused on the epidemic of HIV and sexually transmitted infections in China, intervention and prevention, and social and cultural factors among high-risk populations.

“Ambassador Goosby has provided a very nice opening that has set the stage for our research,” she said.

Hope and Optimism

Martin Y. Iguchi, PhD, dean of NHS, has conducted extensive research on the intersections of drug addiction, drug policy, the criminal justice system, health disparities, and HIV transmission. He welcomed the audience.

“We’ve been dealing with this problem for a very long time,” Iguchi said. “We are at an important transition point. It is important to reflect back that we have come a long way from days of dire despair to hope and optimism as we experience significant declines in incidence and prevalence in some populations.”

By Bill Cessato, NHS Communications
(Published July 25, 2012)