Category Archives: Q&As with Experts

Q&As with Experts

Dybul on PEPFAR: ‘The sky was the limit’

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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.

Dr. John G. Bartlett looks back on AIDS: A 30-year perspective

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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.

30 years of AIDS – An interview with Helen Epstein

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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.

AIDS at 30: an interview with activist Gregg Gonsalves

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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.

A major step in HIV vaccine research, but much more to do

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In commemoration of HIV Vaccine Awareness Day (May 18), Science Speaks conducted the following interview with Louis Picker, MD, associate director of the Oregon Health & Science University’s Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute. Dr. Picker led a team of researchers from VGTI, the National Cancer Institute – Frederick, and the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative that reported a promising HIV vaccine approach in the advance online edition of the journal Nature last week.

Investigators gave 24 healthy rhesus macaque monkeys a vaccine for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), the monkey equivalent of HIV, containing a genetically modified form of the Rhesus cytomegalovirus, which is used as a “vector,” or a carrier that transfers an infective agent from one host to another. Thirteen of the monkeys responded to the vaccine, with 12 of the monkeys showing no signs of SIV infection 12 months later. Authors say this will significantly contribute to the development of an effective HIV vaccine for humans… Read More

Anthony Fauci reflects on 30 years of AIDS

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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…

VIDEO: Advancing global health through new technologies – a Kenyan perspective

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The following Q & A with Kenyan Ob/Gyn Dr. Elizabeth Anne Bukusi, chief research officer and deputy director of research and training at the Kenya Medical Research Institute, covers topics from microbicide trials and challenges to roll-out and medical male circumcision to condom stock-outs and PEPFAR funding. Dr. Bukusi travelled to the U.S. to speak at an event this week discussing how the U.S. can advance global health through new technologies, hosted by the Global health Technologies Coalition Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Read more…

HIV/AIDS in Burundi: An advocate blazes the trail for access to care and treatment

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The following is an interview with Jeanne Gapiya, founding president of the Association Nationale de Soutien aux Séropositifs et aux Malades du SIDA (National Association for the Support of People Living with HIV/AIDS), or ANSS, in Burundi. Gapiya gave the opening address at the United Nations’ hearing for members of civil society in April in anticipation […]

Ask an Expert: Breast feeding vs formula and mother-to-child HIV transmission

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In our first Ask-an-Expert submission, Emily Blynn from Washington, DC, writes: I have read in various places that for HIV positive mothers, if formula is not consistently available for some reason, be it financial or physical access or otherwise, consistent breastfeeding is less likely to transmit the virus to the infant than switching off and […]

CDC’s DeCock: We need coordinated research agenda for HIV/AIDS

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Kevin M. DeCock, MD, is director of the Center for Global Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based in Atlanta. Among his past positions are Director of CDC Kenya and Director of the World Health Organization’s Department of HIV/AIDS.  John Donnelly talked with Dr. DeCock Thursday about the large numbers of […]