Fighting AIDS in Africa: Public Health vs. Human Rights

WilliamsDr. Brian Williams, epidemiologist for the World Health Organization in Geneva

Distinguished Visiting Practitioner Residency

February 9-13, 2009

Dr. Williams' residency comprised a weeklong sharing of his expertise on public health and infectious diseases, particularly tuberculosis and AIDS, with a wide variety of campus constituents. He spoke with students from the African Forum about the effect of HIV/AIDS on development in the continent. He met with the Student Global AIDS Campaign, a national student-based organization dedicated to ending the global AIDS pandemic. In addition, he was available for more informal talks with interested students, including a session called “A Day In The Life of an AIDS Epidemiologist,” during which he spent time with individual students to discuss careers in his field.

Biologist Larry Wangh met with Williams to discuss Wangh's and his colleagues’ work on new testing devices for multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis. “Thanks to the efforts of Brian Williams from WHO,” Wangh wrote, “I have made contact with the top TB person at the Gates Foundation in Seattle to begin a discussion of whether they would support the work of my consortium.”

Williams presented a thought-provoking keynote address, “Fighting AIDS in Africa: Public Health vs. Human Rights.” He was a guest in Sarita Bhalotra’s Heller School class on Health and Social Justice and also spoke to students in the anthropology department on how anthropologists and epidemiologists can work together. His visit fulfilled a core mission of the Ethics Center – to bridge scholarship and practice, and enhance dialogue between the worlds of the academy and the professions. Included among the attendees was Kathleen Rees ’10, a 2009 Sorensen Fellow who interned that summer in Peru as a public health investigator.

Williams’ residency was hosted by the Center and the Chemistry Department, with lead faculty member Irving Epstein.