USA Today Profiles HIV/AIDS Expert Jim CurranUSA Today on Monday profiled Jim Curran, former head of the CDC's HIV/AIDS task force during the early 1980s and now dean of public health at Emory University and director of the university's Center for AIDS Research. Curran is one of a few of the scientists and activists attending the XVI International AIDS Conference who is "able to reflect from the beginning on the evolution of [the] devastating" HIV/AIDS epidemic, USA Today reports. Curran and other CDC experts "made major strides" helping to "explain how AIDS spreads, ... mak[ing] the case that a virus causes the disease and [writing] the first recommendations to limit its spread," according to USA Today. Curran became the head of sexually transmitted infection research at CDC in 1978, and his first decision was to allocate $2 million for a study at sexually transmitted infection treatment clinics to look at a hepatitis vaccine in men who have sex with men. Through the study, he made contacts with physicians who were treating sexually transmitted hepatitis in the gay community and he was able to be in contact with the physicians when the HIV/AIDS cases appeared, USA Today reports. Although Curran is considered a "pioneer" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, he "describes chaotic scenes at a conference in which protesters spit on him and a mass mailing by AIDS activists, who sent him 20,000 postcards with his face in a bull's-eye because they were impatient with the government response to AIDS," USA Today reports. "Jim is one of the crucial visionaries of the HIV field," Willard Cates of the not-for-profit public health organization Family Health International, formerly head of CDC's division of STIs, said, adding, "Jim has always been on the cutting edge of science and policy" (Sternberg, USA Today, 8/14).
Kaisernetwork.org is serving as the official webcaster of the conference. View the guide to coverage and all webcasts, interviews and a daily video round up of conference highlights at http://www.kaisernetwork.org/aids2006. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.