We continue our coverage of the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) with this conversation between AIDS.gov’s Miguel Gomez and Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, MD, Coordinator of the U.S. Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy.
CROI is an annual convening of 4,000 of the 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. During the 2015 conference held late last month in Seattle, Ambassador Birx, a former HIV researcher herself, delivered a featured presentation discussing the U.S. President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which she oversees. (View her presentation at the conference website.)
During her conversation with us, Ambassador Birx discussed how PEPFAR is working with partner nations to make better use of data at the country, local, and even site level to achieve greater impact. She shared an example from Kenya’s efforts to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Ambassador Birx also reflected on the remarks she made during her CROI presentation regarding stigma and discrimination. Observing that while progress in addressing HIV/AIDS has been made in numerous countries around the world, she finds the LGBT discrimination that remains visible and evident in many places “deeply concerning.” Such stigma and discrimination “has no place in public health responses,” she observes, underscoring that she and her team are working to ensure that all of PEPFAR’s partner countries know that the U.S. government opposes it.
Finally, she discussed the future of PEPFAR, reaffirming the United States’ commitment to controlling the epidemic and achieving an AIDS-free generation in collaboration with partners around the world.