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Accordia Voices

IDI Doctor Named Representative of the International AIDS Society's Governing Council

Dr. Alex M. Muganzi has helped countless numbers of patients in his career, but one in particular stands out.

“There was one woman at the clinic who was in a coma for three months. She was on the brink of death. And now, from a combination of the medicine and support that she got at IDI, she walks to the clinic every day to receive her drugs.”

It is cases like this one that inspire Dr. Muganzi to work tirelessly everyday to help people living with the HIV virus. And his hard work has not gone unrecognized. Just last month, Dr. Muganzi was named as a Representative for the Africa Region on the International AIDS Society’s (IAS) Governing Council, a collection of leading HIV professionals from around the world.

Being selected is a tremendous honor, as 14 accomplished medical professionals in Africa were considered for just two positions. In total, the IAS has 14,481 members, hailing from 190 different countries. Dr. Muganzi was thrilled when he heard the news.

“The fact that I was chosen is an honor to me, an honor to IDI, and an honor to my country, Uganda,” he said.

Long before he was Dr. Muganzi, young Alex knew that he wanted to enter the medical profession. Seeing friends and family battle the HIV/AIDS virus cemented in him a desire to study medicine and help people living with the disease.

“I’d grown up seeing the face of HIV and its impact, and I thought that becoming a doctor would help me make a difference in the community,” Dr. Muganzi said.

After graduating from medical school at Makere University in 2001, he went to work for a clinic in Northwest Uganda run by Doctors Without Borders, a global non-profit organization. Getting hands-on experience right out of school, Dr. Muganzi worked at a clinic that had approximately 3,000 regular patients, about half of them on ART’s.

After attending an HIV training program at IDI in 2003, Dr. Muganzi became part of the full-time faculty a year later. July 2010 will mark his sixth anniversary at his home on Mulago Hill. Dr. Muganzi emphasized the multifaceted mission of IDI, which allows him to contribute to patient care, clinical research and medical professional training, as one of the things that he appreciates most.

“I owe a lot of what I am today to the years I have spent at IDI,” he said.

Dr. Muganzi’s position on the IAS is not simply ceremonial. At his first conference as an official member of the IAS Governing Council next month in Vienna, Austria, he plans to relate to HIV/AIDS professionals from around the world the groundbreaking work being done at IDI. Dr. Mugazi hopes to advocate for IAS regional offices in Africa, so that medical professionals across the continent can more easily enjoy the benefits of membership. And most of all, he wants to impart his optimistic attitude for the future fight against HIV/AIDS, borne from his time at IDI, with his new peers.

“I see hope at the end of the tunnel,” Dr. Mugazi said. “Ten years ago, the drugs we have today would have been unimaginable. Ten years from now, I see us advancing with lots of scientific discoveries in the field, to treat people living with HIV and keep uninfected people healthy.”

 

by Ross Weingarten