Warren W. Buckingham III – best known as Buck – is director of the Office of AIDS Relief at the Peace Corps. In his career he has played critical roles in fighting AIDS domestically and globally. Most recently he had a major impact as the Kenya country coordinator for the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program for six years, overseeing a budget that grew from $30 million in 2003 to nearly $600 million today. He began his work in AIDS some 26 years ago in writing a proposal that secured funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to establish the AIDS Arms Network in Dallas, Texas, one of the first domestic demonstration projects for enhanced care of people living with AIDS in the U.S. (These grants are largely viewed as having provided the foundation for the Ryan White CARE Act, and Buck worked for a period of time in the early 90s at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration in the Ryan White Program). Soon after Buck started on that project, he was diagnosed with HIV. For years, he has spoken publicly about living with the disease, helping to erase stigma and shame both in America and Africa. John Donnelly interviewed Buckingham for the final interview in a Science Speaks series on 30 years of AIDS.
Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, is one of the world’s leading experts in HIV and tuberculosis care and treatment. An infectious disease specialist, she directs the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) and the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiologic Research at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and is chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Harlem Hospital Center. Dr. El-Sadr has led early trials studying antimicrobial gels that aim to inhibit HIV transmission, and is known internationally for her leadership in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. She is a 2008 MacArthur Foundation fellow and has held several leadership posts at the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the HIV Medicine Association.
Thirty years ago this past Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first cases of what would become HIV in its publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Science Speaks interviewed Dr. El-Sadr as part of its special series commemorating 30 years of AIDS, and she discusses the parallels in treating populations in the U.S. and in Africa, the greatest achievements in the epidemic’s 30 years, and what drew her to the cause.
Ambassador Mark R. Dybul co-directs the Global Health Law Program at Georgetown University Law Center’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, where he is also a Distinguished Scholar. He is the inaugural Global Health Fellow of the George W. Bush Institute. Dybul served as the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 to the end of the George W. Bush administration. In that role, he led the implementation of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest international health initiative in history for a single disease. Prior to assuming the post of ambassador, he was acting, deputy and assistant coordinator, and was a member of the Planning Task Force that created PEPFAR. Dybul also led President Bush’s International Prevention of Mother and Child HIV initiative for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Dybul spoke with John Donnelly about the start of PEPFAR and some of the most memorable moments directing it, continuing Science Speaks’ series on 30 years of AIDS.
HIV specialist and leading infectious diseases physician John G. Bartlett, MD, doesn’t mince words when you ask him about what his AIDS patients faced in the early days of the epidemic.
“They were the scourge of society – people didn’t like them because they were either gay or injection drug users, and there was a fear of contagion, that if you were in the same room with someone with AIDS you might get AIDS… They had diarrhea and dementia and wasting. It was an awful way to die. And besides that, everyone around you hated you. Can you imagine living to die that way?”
Dr. Bartlett became a ray of hope for people living with HIV/AIDS. He directed some of the first clinical trials of new treatments that prevent HIV from replicating, and pioneered the development of dedicated in-patient and out-patient medical care for HIV-infected patients.
In our third interview in a Science Speaks series commemorating 30 years of AIDS, Dr. Bartlett speaks frankly about hiding his treatment of AIDS patients from hospital administrators in the early ‘80s, key scientific breakthroughs over the years, and his views on the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program moving forward.
Helen Epstein is a freelance writer and independent consultant in public health. Her articles have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, Granta and elsewhere. Her book The Invisible Cure: Why we are Losing the Fight against AIDS in Africa was a New York Times notable book of 2007. She has taught public health at Columbia University and Bard College, and has served as a consultant for numerous organizations including UNICEF, The World Bank and Human Rights Watch. John Donnelly interviewed Epstein as part of Science Speaks’ series on the 30th anniversary of the first reports of what would become known as HIV/AIDS. She talked about the role discordant couples and concurrent relationships play in driving the epidemic, a hotly debated issue.
Long-time AIDS activist Gregg Gonsalves is often outspoken, and known for saying things like “I’m holding my nose as I say this, but I miss George W. Bush,” as he was quoted in a New York Times article in 2009 criticizing Obama for his lackluster global AIDS plan that aimed to scale back the push to put more people on antiretroviral medication. He has spent more than two decades working on AIDS to address the U.S. and global epidemics, starting out at ACT UP/Boston in the late 80s. One of many accomplishments, Gonsalves is a founding member of the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, a network of more than 1,000 people from 125 countries advocating for universal access to HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) treatment. He was also the first-ever recipient of the $100,000 John M. Lloyd AIDS Leadership Award.
In an interview with Meredith Mazzotta for a Science Speaks blog series commemorating 30 years since the first reports of what would come to be known as HIV/AIDS, Gonsalves speaks up about his personal journey to becoming one of the pandemic’s greatest activists, his upcoming AIDS research, and the panic he feels for future funding for AIDS.
Anthony S. Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, is arguably the U.S. government’s best-known scientist. John Donnelly interviewed Dr. Fauci for Science Speaks’ series on the 30th anniversary since the discovery of a virus that would turn out to be HIV, and he talked about everything from how he first learned of the disease, to his surprise in President George W. Bush’s commitment, to the unmet needs today to fight the pandemic. Read more…