Welcome Message from Richard Marlink

From AIDS@30: Engaging to End the Epidemic
An International Symposium Organized by the Harvard School of Public Health | December 1–2, 2011

In 1980/81, during my internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, I first encountered patients with unusual clinical presentations due to a virus yet to be described. Like many of us, I have combated that virus ever since. Also like many of us who have lost loved ones to AIDS, many of my patients, colleagues, and friends are now gone because of this virus.

We’re tired of this virus, this epidemic, and now hopefully are able to plan its demise.

We’ve invited you and other key thought leaders in medicine, science, arts, advocacy, public health, and government to join us in a rigorous discussion of what we have learned about HIV/AIDS over the past 30 years and together plan for the end of the epidemic. I, for one, do not want to be discussing AIDS at 40 years or AIDS at 50 years. The conversation starts now, for planning the end of AIDS.

We have used three programmatic lenses to focus broad session topics and our discussions over the next two days:

  • SCIENCE, MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH
  • ARTS, ADVOCACY AND ACTIVISM
  • GOVERNANCE, LEADERSHIP AND FINANCING

Through these lenses, we seek multi-disciplinary, interactive sessions to truly engage all of us in planning what it will take to end the epidemic. With the beginnings of the scale-up of HIV prevention, care and treatment efforts worldwide, and with recent scientific advances, we’re at a global tipping point. We have the medical ability to prevent virtually all new HIV infections in infants and young children. Recent studies have also shown antiretroviral therapy can greatly reduce the chance of transmitting HIV in adults. Expanded AIDS funding, innovative financing mechanisms and new efficiencies have increased access and saved millions of lives. The end is within our grasp, but the end game will not be easy.

We’d like to emerge from this symposium with a declaration that we can take forward; declaring that now’s the time to be bold, to expand our efforts, and to plan for the end of AIDS. We’d like to call on our institutions, governments, and global agencies to begin the planning for the virtual end of not only the pediatric epidemic, but the virtual end to AIDS—period. Let’s plan to put an end to these decade anniversaries.

Let’s take what we’ve learned over 30 years of fighting to plan what we can do to actually stop another 30 years of preventable infections and lives lost.

Thank you for joining us in this conversation.

Ric

Richard Marlink, MD, Program Chair for AIDS@30; Bruce A. Beal, Robert L. Beal, and Alexander S. Beal Professor of the Practice of Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health; Executive Director of the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative; Senior Advisor, Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation