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."
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
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