Remembering Mark Wainberg

From left: Tun Hou, Max Essex, Phyllis Kanki, ?, Mark Wainberg

From left: Tun-Hou Lee, Max Essex, Phyllis Kanki, William Haseltine, Mark Wainberg

Researchers at the Harvard AIDS Initiative (HAI) were saddened to learn that their much-loved colleague Mark Wainberg met his death while swimming in strong surf off Bal Harbour, Florida, on Tuesday, April 11th.

“Mark was an outstanding scientist, a dedicated humanitarian, and a great friend. He had tremendous commitment to solving the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Max Essex, Chair of HAI, who knew Wainberg for over 40 years.

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BHP Headquarters: Where the Work Happens

Botswana Harvard Partnership Building

The heart of Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) operations is the busy, three-story building on the grounds of Princess Marina, the main public hospital in Gaborone. The crowded research building houses the Botswana- Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory, the Data Management Centre, and office space for BHP staff. Continue reading

Celebrating 20 Years of Life-Saving Research

BHP 20th Anniversary Breakfast

Lives saved are always cause for celebration. The morning of January 26, 2017, in a hotel meeting room in Gaborone, Botswana, AIDS researchers, government officials, and others came together to celebrate 20 years of research, education, and training efforts by the Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) to end the AIDS epidemic in southern Africa. Continue reading

Melissa Zahralban-Steele: Doing It Well

Melissa Zahralban-Steele, Max Essex, Vlad Novitsky

The young researchers who work in laboratory of Prof. Max Essex, Chair of the Harvard AIDS Initiative, often use the experience as a springboard to their own important work. Take, for example, Melissa Zahralban-Steele, currently working in the Essex Lab. Continue reading

Essex Considers the BHP’s First Two Decades

Dr. Max Essex at the construction site for the Botswana-Harvard Partnership, Gaborone, Botswana, 2000.

In January, the Botswana Harvard Partnership (BHP) celebrated its 20th anniversary. At the ceremony in Gaborone, Dr. Max Essex , Chair of both the BHP and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative, delivered these remarks:

Botswana and the Botswana Harvard Partnership have much to celebrate. Although AIDS in Africa was recognized as a major epidemic in east and central Africa in the early to mid 1980s, it was not yet a big deal in southern Africa. By the early to mid 1990s, however, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization prevalence estimates showed that southern Africa was much more impacted than all other regions of the world.

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Featured Presentations at CROI

CROI logo 2017

The annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) brings together top basic, translational, and clinical researchers from around the world to share the latest studies, important developments, and best research methods in the ongoing battle against HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases.

CROI 2017 will be held from February 13 to February 16, 2017, in Seattle, Washington, at the Washington State Convention Center. Webcasts, abstracts, electronic posters, and other electronic resources from CROI 2017 will be available online after the conference ends. Continue reading

Botswana Harvard Partnership Revisited: Remarks by Soon-Young Yoon

Botswana Harvard Partnership banner carried by runners.

Dr. Soon-Young Yoon is an anthropologist and advocate for women’s human rights. She made the following remarks at the Botswana Harvard Partnership’s 20th anniversary celebration in Gaborone on January 26, 2017:

His Excellency former President Ketumile Masire, Honorable Minister Dorcus Makgatho, H. E. Ambassador Miller, distinguished speakers and guests.

Ambassador Earl Miller & Dr. Soon Young Yoon
Ambassador Earl Miller & Dr. Soon-Young Yoon

In 2001, I was honored to represent the Harvard AIDS Initiative’s International Advisory Council when we presented His Excellency former President Festus Mogae with the Leadership Award for his inspiring response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. On that occasion, he said that we all live with AIDS because everyone has a relative or friend whose life has been changed by the disease. I remember thinking how fortunate this country was to have a leader who was willing to go against the tide of fear and doubt and express compassion instead of blame for AIDs patients.

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The Press and the Partnership: Remarks by Richard M. Smith

Richard M. Smith is a member of HAI’s International Advisory Council. He attended the Botswana Harvard Partnership’s 20th anniversary celebration in Gaborone, Botswana on January 26, 2017 and delivered the following remarks:

April 1983 issue of Newsweek
April 18, 1983 issue

It was in 1983 that I first heard about HIV/AIDS. I was the Executive Editor of Newsweek magazine, and our medical editors and reporters had come in to describe a mysterious disease that had received no national media attention, but was spreading at an alarming rate. By the time their briefing was over, our natural skepticism had vanished, and we ultimately scheduled a cover story. The cover image was a vial of blood, and the main headline was simply: EPIDEMIC.

The story created a firestorm. Our critics said that we were guilty of sensationalism—that we had just discovered another disease of the month. How could we raise so much fear about a disease that was still afflicting a relatively small group of people?

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The Botswana Harvard Partnership Turns 20: Q&A with Dr. Joseph Makhema

Dr. Joseph Makhema

The Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP) was established 20 years ago to help combat HIV/AIDS at the epicenter of the epidemic. At the time, about 37% of pregnant women in Botswana were infected with HIV. Dr. Joseph Makhema was a young physician working what seemed like unending hours at the public hospital in Gaborone, where effective treatment was not yet available. Today, Dr. Makhema is the CEO of the Institute he played an important role in establishing. Martha Henry, Executive Director of HAI, spoke with him about the BHP’s history and future. Continue reading

Opioid-HIV Connection: A Troubling Trend

Health Department Sign: Free HIV Testing

Opioid abuse has become a major public health problem in the U.S. According to the Centers for Diseases Control (CDC), overdose deaths involving prescription opioids increased to about 19,000 deaths in 2014, more than four times the number in 2000. In 2012, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 2.1 million people suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers, with an estimated 467,000 addicted to heroin.

Heroin and other opioids are often injected. According to Harm Reduction International, HIV prevalence is 28 times higher in people who inject drugs compared with the rest of the population. Read more.

Photo: WDRB.com