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Institute of Human Virology Annual Gala
Oct. 4, 2019
Four Seasons Baltimore
Dr. Gallo, I thank you and your colleagues at the Institute of Human Virology, not only for the groundbreaking work you do every day to end the scourge of HIV and virally caused cancers, but for convening this community of scientists and scholars so that they may share and collaborate in the most important work any of us could undertake.
In fact, I was honored to see this work in a very powerful way recently. I traveled to Zambia and Botswana just last week to meet UMB colleagues at the Institute’s Center for International Health, Education, and Biosecurity, to see their work up close and learn from the strategies they undertake, to meet the patients who are alive and healthy because of this amazing community of care you’ve assembled throughout Africa.
I’ll admit that it’s hard to even articulate tonight how affecting the trip was for me. You know, as a scientist or epidemiologist, one is trained to think about populations, about data points. But each of those data points is a person, and each person has a story.
And there’s just one story, in particular, that I want to share. A week ago Tuesday, I visited the Nakatindi Mother & Child Clinic outside Livingstone, Zambia. I met with five mothers and their children. All five of the women are HIV-positive—and all five are benefiting from our program in Zambia. The women shared with me how grateful they are for the treatment they’re getting—how grateful they are for our presence and our intervention.
But I’m a pediatrician, and so the best part of my visit was when the women introduced me to their children, ranging in age from 2 months to 8 years, all of them born since their mothers began receiving services at the clinic.
All five of these children are HIV-negative. And you know what their mothers call them? They call them their “Maryland babies.”
Now, I know you understand the real, on-the-ground impact of your work. I’m sure you don’t deal every day only in statistics. But I will take every chance I get to tell the stories of individuals—not populations—the stories of people, the stories behind the data points.
You are making such a profound difference in the lives of so many. You have Maryland babies all over the world. And I can’t thank you enough. I mean that: I can’t thank you enough.
I am awed by all of you working to end the epidemics that have cost us so much, all of you working for life and for the living, for health and for healing. And I congratulate the Institute’s 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award winners for being such a vital part of this extraordinary community of care. Thank you.