The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, has appointed an Indian-origin professor as a UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV during the launch of a new UNAIDS report, ‘Right to Health’.
Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, who was awarded South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, is an infectious diseases epidemiologist whose main research interests are in understanding the evolving HIV epidemic in South Africa; factors influencing acquisition of HIV infection in adolescent girls; and sustainable strategies to introduce antiretroviral therapy in resource-constrained settings.
“In her new role as a UNAIDS Special Ambassador, she will focus on adolescents and HIV, while also championing the involvement of young women in science,” UNAIDS said in a statement.
“I am delighted that Quarraisha Abdool Karim has accepted this position,” said Sidibé.
“A strong and consistent champion of young people living with and affected by HIV, she will use her new role to continue to translate scientific research and knowledge into people-centred solutions and prevention programmes to reduce the factors making young people so vulnerable to HIV infection. UNAIDS looks forward to supporting her work,” he added.
Professor Abdool Karim, who is working as a Clinical Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, US, and an Honorary Professor in Public Health at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, has called for making HIV information and services more accessible to young people.
“As we increase our understanding of the HIV epidemic and the transmission dynamics that place young people at higher risk of infection, all sectors of society must work together to make sure that adolescents have access to the information and services that can keep them safe and well through a crucial period of their lives and into adulthood,” Professor Abdool Karim said.
The Indian-origin researcher is a member of the UNAIDS Scientific Expert Panel and Scientific Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS.