UMB News

Previous Articles
2014
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2013
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Leadership in HIV Summit Seeks Control of Epidemic

Facing a crowd of hundreds of health care providers, advocates and researchers, Robert Gallo, MD, recounted the story of how, in 1984, his laboratory at the National Cancer Institute discovered that HIV was the cause of AIDS.

"Very quickly," he said, "a remote infection became a global infection."

Today, HIV is treatable if caught early. Patients can lead long, productive lives with proper treatment. Treatment can even help to prevent transmission, slowing the spread of the virus. But it's not enough, Gallo, director of the Institute of Human Virology at the School of Medicine, told the crowd assembled for IHV's Leadership in HIV Summit: Preparing the Future, at the University of Maryland Southern Management Corporation Campus Center on Nov. 4.



"We want to eliminate the epidemic," Gallo said. IHV is working on a vaccine, which will begin Phase I testing next year with funding from the Gates Foundation. But in the meantime, outreach is key, particularly in a city like Baltimore, which consistently ranks among the top 10 cities nationwide in HIV infection rates.

"The answer is to test, test, test," he told the audience. "It's about lots of testing and lots of early treatment. That's why what youýre doing in outreach in a community that has a high level of infected people cannot be more important. Nothing is more important. This meeting, this program of the JACQUES Initiative ý these things cannot be more important in the HIV epidemic."

The JACQUES Initiative is a program of IHV that is devoted to providing HIV and AIDS patients with holistic care, treating body and mind, and to promoting testing and treatment in Baltimoreýs high-risk communities. The JACQUES Initiative is in the second year of its Preparing the Future program, an interprofessional program aimed at advancing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy by making HIV testing and linkage to care part of the everyday routine in health care on the University of Marylandýs professional campus, covering the Schools of Law, Nursing, Medicine, Social Work, Dentistry and Pharmacy.

Preparing the Future involves students from the six professional schools in programs to familiarize them with treating and working with HIV patients. Students from all the schools work in interprofessional teams to offer testing directly to the hardest hit communities in Baltimore. As part of the program, students at the School of Nursing promoted HIV testing through a social media campaign called Put it in Your Mouth -- a reference to the oral test for HIV -- targeting Baltimore's gay population. Students from the School of Law visit the JACQUES Initiative clinic each Tuesday to provide legal services to HIV patients -- often they need help with custody matters, living wills and social security issues.

Preparing the Future also has partnered with the School of Dentistry to routinize HIV testing in patients receiving care at the school, and with the School of Medicine to routinize HIV testing at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The program is teaching the next generation of health care providers to be comfortable and confident discussing HIV with and proactively offering testing to patients, said Jamie Mignano, RSN, MSN, MPH, head of development and information dissemination at the JACQUES Initiative, as she addressed the summit's audience.



The summit's keynote speaker was Jeffrey S. Crowley, MPH, program director for the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University School of Law. Crowley is the former director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, and was instrumental in developing the nation's first National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Crowley spoke about the White House's commitment to AIDS worldwide, and the value of programs such as the JACQUES Initiative and Preparing the Future. While the federal government is taking responsibility for its role in fighting HIV/AIDS, he said, the summit's audience members need to do the same.

"So what do we need to do?" he asked. "The first [thing], I would say that each and everyone of you needs to take responsibility for fighting HIV stigma, and finding a way to make sure that you show every person that walks on this campus that you care about them and that you're here to support them."

Stigma, Crowley explains, keeps people from being tested and from seeking treatment when they test positive. It enables the spread of AIDS, when people arenýt honest with their partners about their status, or donýt know that they are positive.

"I am tasking you to fight stigma, but you're not starting from scratch," he told the crowd. Remember, I've visited the JACQUES Initiative. I remember the warm greeting by the receptionist. I observed how clients and staff interact with each other. The first thing you need to do is make sure that what the JACQUES Initiative is doing right is translated across this campus. I think we need to commit to focusing on patient care and research into improving the patient experience. I want to task you with looking at your system of care: what works? What isn't perfect? How can you share what you know so that your great ideas are adopted elsewhere?"

UMB needs to keep doing what's right across all its schools, he said.

"I urge you to ensure that HIV remains high on the agenda of priorities for this institution and this city," Crowley said.

"The fact that you have a National HIV/AIDS Strategy implementation plan is huge. I'm just so proud of that fact. But you still have a serious epidemic in the U.S. and in Baltimore. So whatever role you play, make a personal commitment to working toward ending the epidemic.

"Make sure that when research priorities are set, HIV remains prominent. It could be that when issues come up in the clinic, discussing the impact on patients with HIV is part of the dialogue. Don't be afraid to talk about HIV."

Much of the American HIV/AIDS dialogue has focused on what to do about the global epidemic, including the President's Emergency Preparedness Fund for AIDS Relief, which funds HIV/AIDS programs worldwide, Crowley said. But providers and the AIDS community shouldn't forget the Americans struggling with the virus, he added.

"Somewhere along the way, we stopped talking about HIV in this country," Crowley said. "Whether it's in the cafeteria, at church, at your child's school, talking to your partner -- don't be afraid to say the wrong thing."

UMB has the power to be a major player in fighting the epidemic, even in Baltimore, where HIV rates are among the highest in the nation, he said.

"I don't have all the answers," Crowley said in closing. "I do know that few national challenges are solved by being ignored. Take responsibility for fighting HIV stigma, focus on ways to improve the patient experience, keep HIV on the agenda across this institution and across this city and keep talking about HIV because it's still a pressing issue in Baltimore."


Posting Date: 11/15/2013
Contact Name: Karen A. Robinson
Contact Phone: 410-706-0023
Contact Email: karobinson@umaryland.edu