I did my internal medicine residency at Yale New Haven Hospital in the years immediately before the advent of protease inhibitors would change the face of ART. In addition to caring for many young gay men with AIDS, I saw the side of the epidemic that even today remains relatively hidden in the United States, and is operative throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa: young women — often black — who presented late in the disease, having been infected by boyfriends or husbands. I was on call when one of my favorite patients, Shirley B., was admitted to die, and the team paged me to let me know so I could see her. I’ll never forget their kindness in doing that and my visit to her room. These experiences solidified not only my interest in ID but in advancing women’s reproductive health and autonomy related to ID and HIV prevention. Vaginal health? Female-controlled prevention methods? These were not sexy concepts that attracted big names during my subsequent training and early research career. Luckily, through persistence and commitment and probably some measure of stubborn cluelessness, I connected with some brave visionary mentors who believed there was a future in this arena and who themselves had battled for sexual and reproductive health — women, LGBT people, others not always at the proverbial table when funding or policy priorities are set. The rest is my personal history, and I know that only in ID would I have been able to accomplish any of it.
– Jeanne M. Marrazzo, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA
Infectious Disease News Editorial Board member
C. Glenn Cobbs, MD, Endowed Professor in Infectious Diseases
Director, division of infectious diseases
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine