World AIDS Day, started in 1988, is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, increase awareness, combat stigma, and improve education. Each year, the UNC Center for AIDS Research and the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases host a World AIDS Day Symposium featuring presentations by UNC faculty members, expert research and medical professionals, and panel discussions.
This year, morning session keynote speaker Michael Mugavero, MD, MHSc, from the University of Alabama spoke on “Ending AIDS in Alabama”. The afternoon session keynote speaker Elizabeth Connick, MD, University of Arizona, spoke on “The Role of the B Cell Follicular Sanctuary in HIV Immunopathogenesis”.
Attendees enjoyed a lively panel discussion on Access to HIV Care and presentations on a wide variety of relevant topics to the field, including “HIV Epidemiology” from Erica Samoff, PhD, MPH, North Carolina Division of Public Health and “The Role of the Immune Response in Curing HIV” from Nilu Goonetilleke, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill. Allison Matthews, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill, spoke on “Crowdsourcing Contests and Community Engagement for HIV Cure Research: A Mixed Methods Evaluation” and Sarah Joseph, PhD, UNC Chapel Hill, shared information on “HIV in the Brain: Observations from Throughout Infection”.
The UNC CFAR was represented at a number of other WAD events around the triangle this year, including the Red Tie Affair at UNC and the Durham County WAD Commemoration.
In addition to the World AIDS Day Symposium, the UNC CFAR supported a variety of community events around the triangle. One such event was the annual Red Tie Affair, hosted by UNC organization GlobeMed, a group of students dedicated to fighting for global health equity.
The benefit gala united students and health professionals to engage in a compassionate dialogue about HIV/AIDS. The UNC CFAR was represented by Myron S. Cohen, MD and David Wohl, MD. Dr. Cohen, Associate Director of the CFAR, presented on HIV prevention efforts in 2016 and offered suggestions on how to continue propelling these efforts forward. Dr. David Wohl, Professor of Medicine in the UNC Division of Infectious Diseases, presented on HIV Therapy and the incredible strides that have been made in the search for a cure.
Proceeds for the event will support GlobeMed’s partnership with Young Love, an organization based in Botswana with a mission to implement life-saving sexual health education programs for youth in Southern Africa.
The UNC CFAR CODE office was represented by Office Director Caressa White at the Durham County World AIDS Day Commemoration. The event was held in Durham Central Park, featuring remarks from Michael Wilson and Virginia Mitchell, Chairs of the HIV/STI committee. Caressa White shared a timeline of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and attendees enjoyed artistic performances by TAKIRY Dance Group from El Centro Hispano and Voices from the Heart from Triangle Empowerment Center. Following a candle lighting ceremony in remembrance of those we have lost to the epidemic, the crowd walked to the LGBTQ Center of Durham for a group viewing of an HIV/AIDS-themed photography exhibit “I Still Remember” and reception.