Fall 2015 HIV/AIDS

The Fall 2015 Quarterly Conversations in Global Health focused on the spectrum of issues that surround and stem from H IV/AIDS. Topics discussed include current research being done in the field, HIV/AIDS as a global health concern, and the social effects of stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

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The 1st Inaugural Quarterly Conversations in Global Health commenced on November 16th at the Great Hall at UC San Diego. The event brought in community resources who focus on HIV/AIDS prevention, education and awareness, as well as featured a photo booth, a faculty panelists and Q&A session. The Fall 2015 Quarterly Conversations in Global Health focused on the spectrum of issues that surround and stem from H IV/AIDS. Topics discussed include current research being done in the field, HIV/AIDS as a global health concern, and the social effects of stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

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Global Health Program Director, Dr. Thomas Csordas opened the event and introduced our inspiring speakers where we heard from:

Members of San Ysidro Health Center “Our Place” spoke about their personal experience being HIV positive.

Take away: Despite the greater awareness, people are still being affected bu HIV/AIDS at an enormous rate.

Ways of coming into contact with the virus: blood, semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk but it is 100% preventable. There are resources, so people must use them!

Things have changed, like there are better medications, but people still get infected and many don’t know they have it because they feel “fine.” There are disproportionate stats among groups of people like African Americans and Latinos. The pandemic in San Diego is still going­ on and there is still work that needs to be done.

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We were delighted to have Dr. Thomas Csordas, Director of UC San Diego's Global Health Program, moderating the event as our Master of Ceremonies.

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Dr. Radhika Sundararajan, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at UC San Diego spoke about the role of traditional healers for HIV. Traditional healers (TH) include herbalism, spiritual treatment, bone setting, and birth attendants (most use a combination of these). About 80% of people use traditional healers in some countries in Africa and Asia (but some use it rarely).


Beyond the need for traditional healers, people prefer to use traditional healers because they provides holistic care, aid for “possession/curses,” people have mistrust of bio medicine, and healers are respected members of the community. Traditional healers are the first point of contact when people get sick (not the doctors). HIV diagnosis is delayed when people visit TH. But there is lack of data for people who don’t have access to bio medical medicine.


To improve care, there needs to be collaborations between healers and bio medical providers, a better understanding of the needs and concerns of stakeholders, and formative research to understand how to best help people.

Dr. Robert Schooley, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases and Academic Vice Chair, Department of Medicine, spoke about his research regarding HCV, influenza and HIV pathogenesis. He describes the advent of HIV in the early 1980’s and the stigmas surrounding HIV infections (especially towards gay men). Doctors didn’t accept gay men socially and thus did not want to treat them and they were also afraid of getting the disease if they helped them.

Bigotry allowed for a continuation of the epidemic. Clinical trials were done to provide drugs to HIV patients but the FDA did not want to approve initially, setting back access to aid for patients.


He began a study that had the people in other countries like India and Zimbabwe learn more about aid for HIV and persuade their governments to make drugs available to constituents.


However, most of the initiative is made by western countries since eastern nations don’t have as quality education for medicine. Therefore we need to work towards helping develop health care education in other countries.

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