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Del Rio to discuss future of HIV/AIDS epidemic

Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease expert who has led treatment, prevention, and research efforts targeting HIV/AIDS since the early days of the epidemic, will lead a Life of the Mind conversation on Wednesday, March 26.

The lecture will be from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library.

Del Rio is Hubert Professor and Chair of the Department of Global Health at Rollins School of Public Health and professor in the School of Medicine. He also is also co-director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research and program director of the Emory AIDS International Training and Research Program.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Council, the Life of the Mind lecture series celebrates Emory’s outstanding faculty and the dynamic intellectual community of the University with discussions led by Emory faculty members.

Del Rio will discuss the current state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic — not only  recent advances but also challenges and realistic expectations for the future. He’ll be joined by colleague and infectious disease expert Wendy Armstrong, associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Ponce de Leon Center of the Grady Health System.

Kimberly Hagan, assistant professor, Rollins School of Public Health, and assistant director of the Emory Center for AIDS Research, will introduce the conversation.

Del Rio has observed that while the research community may still be far from finding a "cure" for HIV/AIDS, there is now a much better understanding of the epidemic and knowledge of the tools needed to contain it..

"We need to scale up these tools — including education, condom distribution, and HIV testing — as a routine part of medical care, engagement in care, and access to antiretroviral therapy," Del Rio says.

"The stigma attached to HIV and AIDS, and the lack of public discussion and widespread access to prevention and care have been some of the major challenges to prevention and treatment," he says.

"However, we also need to tackle stigma, poverty, racial disparities, and other social determinants of health that are fueling the epidemic.

"If we do that, we have an opportunity to make a major impact on this epidemic, even while research efforts to develop drugs that could cure infected people and vaccines that could prevent infection continue. The HIV epidemic is still a very important public health problem in our country, as well as globally, but there is a great deal we can do to make significant progress in this fight."

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