CHICAGO – Traditions have to begin somewhere, and as this prevention-focused conference wrapped up its second meeting on Thursday, presentations continued one tradition began at its first meeting in 2014 and proposed a new one, recognizing work that both inform research and enable it possibilities to be realized.
Tributes to Dr. Ward Cates by colleagues Dr. Mike Cohen and Dr. Helen Rees, tracked the path of the physician researcher’s career from assessing and documenting the benefits to women’s health the legalization of abortion brought, to recognizing and warning of the pending impacts the HIV epidemic would bring, to his support, through evidence and action for equitable reproductive health service access. A talk every two years at this conference should commemorate the ideals that led that path, and guide endeavors to realize the promises of science for all people, Dr. Cohen said. Remembering Dr. Cates as a friend, family man and researcher and committed public health practitioner, Dr. Cohen concluded, “His was a life well lived.”
In a continuation of a tradition begun in Cape Town at HIVR4P’s 2014 inaugural meeting, the conference recognized contributions to human rights in HIV responses with a Desmond Tutu award to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Deborah Birx.
Amb. Birx led efforts to make treatment available across Africa, and continues to direct responses to underserved populations that include sexual minorities, people who are incarcerated, people who inject drugs, and young women and girls who face the greatest risks, Nelly Mugo of the Kenya Medical Research Institute said. Birx, she said, has long recognized that human rights violations put the health of entire communities at risk. The first Desmond Tutu Award went to Tutu himself, in recognition of his life-long endeavors against poverty and injustice and his participation in the fight for testing, treatment and care for those most affected by HIV and TB.