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2007 News Archive
Time Magazine: Male circumcsion to prevent HIV infection is top medical breakthrough of the year

December 2007: In December 2006, the National Institutes of Health halted two clinical trials of male circumcision after an early review of the data showed that the procedure dramatically reduced transmission of HIV. Early this year, the details of those studies were published in the Lancet: In the two randomized trials, which included 7,780 HIV-negative men in Rakai, Uganda, and Kisumu, Kenya, researchers found that medically circumcised men were at least 51% less likely than uncircumcised men to acquire HIV during sex with women. The editors of the Lancet called the discovery "a new era for HIV prevention." Scientists don't know yet whether male circumcision can also provide protection for female partners — a new study on the hypothesis is forthcoming next year. 

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The Lancet: Merle Alden Sande Obituary

December 22, 2007

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IDI Appoints Alex Coutinho, M.D. as Executive Director

November 28, 2007: Today, the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) announced the appointment of Alex Coutinho, M.D., a world-renowned leader in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, as the new Executive Director of the IDI.

Prior to joining IDI, Dr. Coutinho spent six years leading The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) Uganda, the largest HIV/AIDS care and treatment organization in Africa. His impressive accomplishments at TASO include, increasing the organization's annual funding from $3 million to $22 million and expanding care for HIV-positive clients from 20,000 to 80,000. Dr. Coutinho was recently featured in Vanity Fair's Africa Issue, where he was recognized for his remarkable work in the field of HIV/AIDS.

IDI was the inaugural project of the Academic Alliance Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to overcome the burden of infectious disease in Africa, by building healthcare capacity and by strengthening academic medical institutions. "We are thrilled to have Dr. Coutinho assume leadership of the IDI," said Hank McKinnell, Chairman of the Board of the AAF. "His experience and expertise will bring tremendous value to the organization and to millions of people, families, and children in sub-Sahara Africa. Alex is the right man for these difficult times."

Dr. Coutinho will lead the day-to-day activities at IDI, including overseeing the organization's programs which are aimed at building capacity in Africa to care for AIDS patients and to prevent the further spread of HIV. The program areas include: prevention, care and treatment, training, research, and laboratory services.
"I am honored to join IDI and to continue to build upon the past success," said Dr. Alex Coutinho. "I believe firmly in the mission of IDI – to build capacity in Africa for the delivery of sustainable, high quality care and prevention of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases through training and research. As someone who has lost family members to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I am well aware of the devastating effect this disease has had, and continues to have on the people of Africa and around the world. I am excited to help shape and drive the important programs IDI has established."

Dr. Coutinho has been involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS since 1982 when the first cases began to appear in Uganda. Early in his career he assisted in managing the initial AIDS cases at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, and spent two years volunteering as part of a UNICEF/MOH initiative coordinating an intensive HIV education campaign for schools in Kampala and Masaka, Uganda. From 1989-2001, Dr. Coutinho worked in Swaziland pioneering HIV education and prevention programs at local and national levels.

Dr. Coutinho has been a member of the interim board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, representing TASO in the process of setting up the fund in 2001. He was also the vice-chair of the Global Fund Technical Review from 2002-2004 and has served as the Vice Chairperson of the International Board for the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) since 2005. 

Vital Measures in Fighting HIV/AIDS

April 7, 2007: Regarding the March 29 front-page article "Uganda's Early Gains Against HIV Eroding": I was chief of medical services at San Francisco General Hospital from 1980 to 1996. My tenure that coincided with the emergence of AIDS in the United States. I challenge the article's assertion that a multifaceted approach to combating HIV-AIDS in Uganda has compromised the initial reductions in the infection rates seen there in the early 1990s.

Indeed, an initial decline in transmission rates among youths was similarly eroded in the United States when advances in research and treatment reduced the sense of peril. A campaign based solely on the perpetuation of fear-based fidelity is not sustainable; nor is it compatible with the necessary investment in improving treatment and researching better ways to prevent the spread of the virus. What is needed, instead, is a comprehensive strategy to educate the population about how this virus is spread and how to protect oneself from getting it.

 

In Kampala, Uganda, Makerere University's Infectious Diseases Institute, an implementing partner of the Academic Alliance Foundation, treats nearly 10,000 patients who have HIV-AIDS, and prevention is a key component of the care. Counselors advise patients to disclose their status to their families, to follow their treatment regimen closely and to use proven prevention methods.

 

In the end, an educated, self-empowered population will be better protected than a fearful one.

 

MERLE SANDE

 

President, Academic Alliance Foundation

 

Arlington

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