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.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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

LGBT Health in a Trumped-Up World: Q&A With Monica Kriete ‘18

Rainbow test tubes

By Belinda O’Donnell

At a time where the push for full inclusion of LGBT people is gaining ground at a remarkable pace, it’s important to acknowledge that there is still not a single country where LGBT people are not threatened and objectified, have their abilities and contributions discounted, and are subjected to violence because of their perceived or actual LGBT status. Because of this reality, it’s not surprising that LGBT people often struggle to access quality healthcare. And yet as UNAIDS deputy executive director Dr. Luiz Loures notes, “Non-discrimination in health care settings is urgent in order to end the AIDS epidemic.”

Belinda O’Donnell spoke with Monica Kriete, a fierce LGBT health advocate, a former facilitator of a discussion group for queer women in their twenties at the DC LGBT Center, and a first-year MPH student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They talked about how to make health-care settings more inclusive for LGBT people, as well as what it’s like to commit to a career in public health at such a charged political moment in the United States.

Continue reading

What Are You Doing to End the Epidemic?

World AIDS Day Movie 2016

Research to end the AIDS epidemic goes on all day (and many nights) at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. To mark World AIDS Day 2016, we bring you a sampling of the important work being done around the world by our scientists, clinicians, students and staff.

HIV & Opioids: Crisis in Indiana, Boston, and Beyond

Drug syringe with blood

World AIDS Day Symposium

Thursday, December 1, 2016
8:00 – 9:30 am • Coffee & Breakfast Provided
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health • Kresge G2

In 2015, experts were caught off guard when an HIV epidemic exploded in a rural Indiana town. Prescription painkillers were being ground up and injected, often with shared needles, an easy route for HIV transmission.

The U.S. is in the midst of an unprecedented opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,379 people died of an overdose in Massachusetts last year. The threat of another HIV outbreak among injection drug users looms, not only in the U.S., but around the world. The symposium will address the current opioid crisis and ways to limit or prevent future HIV outbreaks.

Continue reading

Explore and Immerse: Q&A with Amy Wu

Amy Wu on the summit of Mount Hood in Oregon.

Her life has been anything but linear. Born in Beijing, Amy Wu grew up in Oregon, performed as a concert pianist in her teens, majored in biochemistry at Harvard, conducted HIV research in China and Botswana, and now works 80-hour weeks as a vice president at a tech startup. She also serves on HAI’s International Advisory Council.

Martha Henry, Executive Director of HAI, reached Amy by phone in a conference room in Manhattan.

You were one of the first Harvard undergrads to spend a semester in Botswana conducting HIV research. Almost ten years later, how do you view that experience?

Continue reading

Consider the Lab Notebook

Stack of Lab Notebooks

“Good science requires good record keeping.”¹

The laboratory notebook has changed little over hundreds of years. Part journal, part scrapbook, it is a record of both what a researcher thinks and what she does. It documents her day-to-day hypotheses, experiments, observations, analyses, and conclusions. Think of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches of a flying machine or Darwin’s detailed field notes from his voyage on the Beagle. In today’s modern laboratories, researchers use the same kind of bound paper notebook to document their work.

The 1876 notebook of Alexander Graham Bell, who patented the first practical telephone.

The 1876 notebook of Alexander Graham Bell, who patented the first practical telephone.

Continue reading