Lifelong advocates to speak about U.S. global efforts to combat HIV/AIDS

Two top deputies working alongside Deborah L. Birx, M.D., Ambassador-at-Large and U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, will chart the scientific progress against AIDS and enduring barriers to stopping its spread at 5:30 p.m. on March 21, 2017, at the University of Georgia Chapel.

Birx, the program’s original speaker, is unable to attend due to a family health emergency. Sandra L. Thurman, chief strategy officer, and Cornelius Baker, chief policy advisor, both from the United States Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, will present “The War Against AIDS, 35 Years and Counting: Are We There Yet?”

The lecture is part of the Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard series. It is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception at Demosthenian Hall, next door to the Chapel. The program is co-sponsored by the UGA Grady College Health and Medical Journalism graduate program and the UGA Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.

“When Sandra Thurman and Cornelius Baker got involved with AIDS advocacy during the early years of the epidemic, most patients died within two years of being diagnosed,” said Patricia Thomas, Knight Chair in Health and Medical Journalism at Grady College. “Many of them were gay men who were shunned by their families and stigmatized even by some health providers. Thurman and Baker and other passionate advocates helped make their lives better and helped mobilize resources domestically and internationally. Today, they continue to have a global impact due to their roles with PEPFAR.”

Thurman is a graduate of Mercer University who later earned an M.A. in Community Pastoral Care and HIV/AIDS from St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya.

For the past 30 years, she has been a leader in improving HIV/AIDS programs and policies at the local, national, and global levels.

She is the chief strategy officer in the United States Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy. She also serves on the faculty at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory.

Thurman launched her advocacy career with AID Atlanta, the oldest and largest AIDS service organization in the South. She was President Bill Clinton’s White House AIDS czar during the late 1990s. She has also held leadership positions at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and for the Task Force for Child Survival and Development at the Carter Center. In addition to her AIDS work, Thurman has made important contributions to polio eradication, women’s health, children’s health, and cancer prevention and treatment.

Baker, chief policy advisor in the United States Department of State’s Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy, will join Thurman for the question and answer session and reception following the lecture. He has worked at every level of the AIDS response during the past three decades, advising elected officials and leading national nonprofit organizations.

The 2017 Global Diseases: Voices from the Vanguard series will close on April 11 with Richard W. Steketee MD, MPH, director, Malaria Control and Elimination Partnership in Africa Program, PATH, who will speak about moving to malaria elimination in parts of Africa.

The annual lecture series is co-organized by Thomas and Daniel G. Colley, professor of microbiology and director of UGA’s Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases.