Columbia and President Clinton Host Symposium to Mark World AIDS Day
On World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, President Bill Clinton will speak at a symposium sponsored by the International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment Programs (ICAP) at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. The event is one of many ways that Columbia centers are raising awareness about AIDS, both locally and abroad. Experts across a number of disciplines, schools and programs at the University are also working to address HIV/AIDS-related issues through groundbreaking research, social intervention programs and other initiatives.
Today, nearly three decades since the start of the pandemic, more than 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS. While the United Nations reports that the rate of infection is down overall, HIV is still infecting large numbers of young people, women and children in developing countries. Access to treatment, stigma and lack of education remain the biggest obstacles to tackling the virus.
President Clinton, joined by Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, head of ICAP, Stephen Lewis, co-director of AIDS-Free World, and C. Virginia Fields, president and CEO of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc., will address the global and national state of AIDS and what is needed to effectively fight the pandemic. This panel discussion is co-hosted by ICAP and the Clinton Foundation. President Lee C. Bollinger will also be at the event, welcoming participants on behalf of the University.
Also on Dec. 1, Paul Browde and Murray Nossel, instructors in Columbia’s narrative medicine master’s program, will perform an original work at Miller Theatre. Part storytelling and part conversation, Two Men Talking is an unscripted performance in which Browde and Nossel, two gay men from South Africa, share their real stories of homophobia, racism and living with HIV. Audience members are invited to share as well, combining “elements of theatre, therapy and real life.”
For many faculty, staff and students at Columbia University, responding to the AIDS pandemic is a daily commitment. Among the initiatives at Columbia seeking to address this global challenge is a collaboration between the School of Social Work’s Social Intervention Group and the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, which has resulted in an innovative, Internet-based program to prevent HIV among couples in New York State.
Robert Remien, a psychologist and researcher at Columbia’s HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, is collaborating with the NYC and NYS Departments of Health on a research proposal that will develop and implement an intervention aimed at raising awareness among medical care providers, HIV-test counselors and high-risk groups to increase knowledge about the early symptoms of HIV infection and how to test for it in order to reduce transmission in communities of high HIV prevalence.
And in rural Nigeria, an innovative partnership with a local organization and ICAP is now helping save lives and livelihoods by offering much-needed financial support as well as HIV/AIDS care to affected individuals and families.