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Emory University president responds to State of the Union comments on HIV/AIDS

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Holly Korschun

Claire E. Sterk is the 20th president of Emory University. She is a globally renowned thought leader whose work has focused on social and health disparities; addiction and infectious diseases, specifically HIV/AIDS; community engagement; and the importance of mentoring and empowering women leaders.

Emory President Claire E. Sterk issued the following statement in response to President Trump's State of the Union call to end HIV/AIDS transmission in the U.S. by 2030.

“HIV/AIDS affects communities, not just individuals. That means our solutions also need to take place at the community level. It’s especially important that we remove barriers to effective diagnosis and treatment.

"Emory University has a long history of leadership in these fields. We look forward to working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and with state and local partners to end the epidemic in Atlanta and well beyond. Great strides have been made in recent years, but some zip codes in the Atlanta area still have rates of HIV/AIDS that are six to eight times higher than the national average.

"As a public health researcher and a long-time Atlanta resident, I support this opportunity to expand and accelerate our local engagement efforts. Success at the local level remains critical to helping us all realize the larger ten-year goal.”

Emory University HIV/AIDS Research, Patient Care, Education

  • Since the earliest days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, Emory University has played a key role in HIV/AIDS discovery and treatment.
  • More than 94 percent of U.S. patients on therapy, and thousands more around the world, take one of several HIV/AIDS drugs invented by Emory scientists.
  • The Emory Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), one of 19 CFARS supported by the National Institutes of Health, has been continuously funded since 1998, and includes more than 200 researchers throughout Emory University.
  • The Emory Vaccine Center, founded in 1997, is one of the largest academic vaccine centers in the world and has a significant focus on development of preventive and therapeutic HIV/AIDS vaccines.
  • An HIV vaccine first developed by scientists at the Emory Vaccine Center and Yerkes National Primate Research Center was licensed to GeoVax, Inc. and is being tested in Phase II human clinical trials.
  • The Vaccine Center’s Hope Clinic is a national leader in conducting clinical trials for HIV vaccines , and is a top-enrolling site for the NIH HVTN (HIV Vaccine Trials Network). The Hope Clinic also is a leading clinical site for NIH-led HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN).
  • The Emory-CDC Clinical Trials Unit is a partnership of Emory and the CDC that includes two clinical research sites in Atlanta (The Ponce de Leon Center and the Hope Clinic) and two international clinical research sites, one in Kisumu, Kenya and one in Bangkok, Thailand.
  • Yerkes National Primate Research Center is one of seven NIH-funded primate centers, with a significant focus on developing improved treatments for HIV/AIDS. A translational research program called ERASE AIDS is aimed at finding a cure for HIV infection.
  • Emory School of Medicine faculty lead treatment of more than 6,000 patients with HIV/AIDS at the Ponce de Leon Center in Atlanta, site of Grady Health System’s infectious diseases program. The Ponce Center is home for HIV/AIDS clinical trials through national networks, and for the Women’s Interagency HIV Study.
  • Behavioral interventions designed by Emory faculty are used by the CDC as part of its recommended prevention interventions.
  • The Rwanda-Zambia HIV Research Group, founded and directed by Emory faculty, has worked for more than 30 years to reduce HIV transmission in couples through couples voluntary counseling and testing (CVCT). This strategy has reduced HIV transmission within couples by more than 70 percent in Rwanda. The WHO now recommends CVCT as an intervention for prevention of heterosexual HIV transmission.
  • In partnership with CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Planning and Implementation program and the Georgia Department of Public Health, Emory researchers support couples voluntary counseling and testing in MSM couples based on the successful CVCT strategy in Rwanda-Zambia.
  • AIDSVu, the most detailed publicly available view of HIV prevalence in the United States, was developed by researchers at Rollins School of Public Health in collaboration with the CDC. AIDSVu interactive online maps display HIV prevalence data geographically and demographically.
  • Emory School of Medicine physicians in the clinical HIV program at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Health Care System treat the largest population of HIV-infected patients within the national VA health care system and maintain the oldest and most comprehensive research database of veterans with HIV/AIDS in the country, with records of more than 3,500 patients spanning 28 years.

Recent Accomplishments

  • HIV/AIDS researchers at Emory School of Medicine and Yerkes Research Center, collaborating with NIH scientists, showed they could achieve sustained control of SIV infection (simian immunodeficiency virus) in rhesus macaques by supplementing antiretroviral drugs with an antibody during and after drug treatment. The discovery was published in the journal Science, and could be a blueprint for an alternative long-term therapy for HIV in humans.
  • The Emory-led Consortium for Innovative AIDS Research in Nonhuman Primates (CIAR-NHP) was awarded a five-year, $35.6 million grant from the NIH to develop new strategies for preventing and curing HIV/AIDS. The partnership focuses on a wide range of HIV vaccine and cure research, with the aim of developing a potent HIV vaccine that produces a broad and sustained immune response. Researchers also aim to refine existing "shock and kill" approaches that seek to eliminate HIV from latent reservoirs in infected individuals, enhancing the possibility of a cure.
  • Emory CFAR faculty co-chaired and are members of the Fulton County Task Force on HIV/AIDS. The Task Force has developed a strategy to address the local HIV epidemic, incorporating broad-based community input and recommendations for prevention strategies and delivery of care with the ultimate goal of ending AIDS in Fulton County.
  • Researchers from Rollins School of Public Health launched a new website,, that allows users to locate a medical provider or clinic that can prescribe Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection.

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