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Experts confront HIV/AIDS pandemic

Great Issues symposium tackles global health issues

Mark Israel

During his tenure as president of Dartmouth (1945-1970), John Sloan Dickey was noted for his course, "Great Issues," which brought world leaders to the College to discuss topics of international concern and provided context for students learning about major issues. That legacy will be continued Wednesday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Nov. 19, when scholars and leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS come together for the Great Issues in Medicine and Global Health Symposium.

Sponsored by the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth, Dartmouth Medical School, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, the symposium will shine a particular spotlight on the AIDS crisis in Africa. Co-chairs are Mary Turco, Director of the Center for Continuing Education in the Health Sciences and Visiting Scholar of Women's and Gender Studies; and Mark Israel, Director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics.

Building on a theme of 'Desperation and Inspiration,' this provoking program will provide examples of the exceptional humanitarian and research work accomplished by individuals and groups affiliated with the Dartmouth medical community and beyond," wrote Turco and Israel in a letter announcing the symposium.


Mary Turco

In the more than two decades since the first reports of the disease, AIDS has become a global epidemic. Worldwide, an estimated 38 million people are living with HIV, but Sub-Saharan Africa has by far the greatest incidence, with an estimated 26.6 million people living with HIV/AIDS. In just the past year the epidemic claimed the lives of an estimated 2.3 million Africans. Ten million young people (aged 15-24) and almost 3 million children under 15 are living with HIV. It is estimated that more than 12 million children have been orphaned by AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

With lectures and events for audiences ranging from high-school students to professionals in the field, the symposium will cover a broad range of topics in a number of different venues:

  • On Wednesday morning, Nov. 17, students from throughout New Hampshire and Vermont are being invited to "Play It Forward" with Tommy Clark '92 DMS '01, alumnus of Hanover High School, Dartmouth College, and Dartmouth Medical School, former professional soccer player, and the founder of Grassroots Soccer in Zimbabwe, an organization that uses soccer player role models to teach African children and teenagers to adopt healthy behaviors.
  • That evening, a free program for the community, "Desperation and Inspiration from Africa: The Fight Against HIV/AIDS," will feature presentations and a question-and-answer session by clinicians and others working on the ground in Africa to fight the pandemic.
  • Presenters will also meet with nurses, physicians, Dartmouth undergraduates, medical school students, and students from the Tuck School in sessions and discussions throughout the three days. The symposium will culminate in a Medical Grand Rounds address to the Dartmouth medical community by Clark and William Rankin, founder of the Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance, a nonprofit organization for preventing HIV/AIDS.

Other participants in the Symposium include Bepi Raviola '94, former Dartmouth soccer teammate of Clark's and researcher on the demoralization of physicians in public medical practice and the psychosocial impact of HIV/AIDS on children; Joyce Sackey '85 DMS '89, professor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the Foundation for African Relief, a nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating suffering caused by HIV/AIDS in Africa; and  C. Fordham von Reyn, Section Chief of Infectious Disease and International Health at DHMC who is leading an international effort to increase knowledge and enhance research skills and capacity in Tanzania to reduce deaths from HIV and tuberculosis.

"AIDS has developed into the dominant global health issue of our time," von Reyn said, "so it's important that we consider the pandemic from many perspectives, including prevention and treatment, basic and clinical research, and a consideration of its economic and social impact."

For more information, see www.dhmc.org/goto/great-issues, or call  653-1531.

By DEBORAH KIMBELL

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08