When we think of heroes in the fight against the HIV/AIDS crisis, we often think of Bono or Bill and Melinda Gates for the unprecedented platform, voice and resources they have given to the cause. We think of those on the frontlines providing the medical and social care to HIV-positive individuals and communities. And we think of the HIV-positive community and the courage they have in living positively and flourishing.
But it’s easy to forget a group of heroes that are equally as important: the behind-the-scenes medical researchers who chip away at discovering life-saving medication, collect and analyze the data that inform what works and what doesn’t work, and relentlessly strive with hope and precision toward an HIV vaccine and cure.
One of my heroes is Dr. Sten Vermund, a medical doctor and professor who has been working on HIV for nearly 30 years—right when HIV emerged in the United States. The work he has done oftentimes goes unnoticed, but his body of work spans decades, continents, and issues within HIV. His contributions have dramatically affected the direction of certain interventions that are giving us a vision for the end of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Just look at the areas Dr. Vermund’s research has addressed:
+ HIV/AIDS amongst adolescents, amongst pregnant women and amongst prisoners
+ HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, Jamaica, Bangladesh, Thailand, China, Pakistan and the U.S.
+ Issues of race and ethnicity in regards to HIV/AIDS
+ Ethical issues related to HIV trials
+ Antiretroviral therapy in Sub-Saharan Africa
+ Preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child
+ Antiretroviral therapy not just as treatment but also as prevention
+ Role of prevention research in HIV vaccine trials
It is remarkable to look at Dr. Vermund’s life and passion for the work. It’s been a privilege to know him and work alongside him in his leadership at the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.
This year, we will be honoring Dr. Vermund as an unsung hero at our annual Red Tie Gala. His commitment to working toward the end of the HIV/AIDS crisis is relentless, and it is inspiring. He is a true hero.
This December, I hope you’ll join Blood:Water, Dr. Vermund and many others who care deeply about the international fight against HIV/AIDS.
For more information, click here.