UM AIDS Clinical Research Unit Welcomes Dignitary

The Miami Center for AIDS Research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine welcomed Ambassador Deborah L. Birx, M.D., U.S. Special Representative for Global Health Diplomacy, to its offices on January 13. Physicians in the UM AIDS Clinical Research Unit, directed by Margaret Fischl, M.D., FACP, asked Ambassador Birx questions, offered insights from UM’s leadership in advancing care, and got feedback about global strategies to combat HIV/AIDS.
“Having established an integrated program for HIV treatment and prevention, including HIV testing, access to care and clinical research, we were delighted to meet with Dr. Birx and provide insight into current local HIV treatment and prevention that may assist in global efforts,” said Fischl, who is also Co-Director of the Miami Center for AIDS Research.

In April 2014 Birx was appointed Ambassador-at-Large and coordinator of all U.S. government activities to address HIV globally. As the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, she oversees the implementation of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), as well as the U.S. government’s engagement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Together, the U.S. government’s commitments through PEPFAR and the Global Fund account for nearly half of all global funding for HIV and AIDS.

Birx visited the UM AIDS Clinical Research Unit as part of her leadership to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The UM AIDS Clinical Research Unit has been a model for delivering prevention, treatment and care services effectively domestically. Birx hopes to use some of these best practices to enhance efforts globally where there is still unmet need.

While talking with Fischl and the UM AIDS Clinical Research Unit, Ambassador Birx repeatedly commented on the role UM could play in revolutionizing the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS. “I’m struck with how much data is available but hasn’t been used for innovation,” she said. “You’re in a unique position to do that.”

She added that Florida has distinctive challenges due to the immigrant population and large number of seniors. “You’re on the front lines of doing work with populations with no voices. From the beginning, Dr. Fischl has led the connection between good science and clinical care,” Birx said. “Your continued presence shows commitment to the community. I’m grateful you’re there. I will go back to Washington, D.C., and talk about your good work.”

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