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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia Professor Named UNAIDS Special Ambassador

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) executive director Mr. Michel Sidibé announced the appointment of Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, as the UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and HIV. Dr. Abdool Karim, who is also the associate scientific director of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, is one of the world’s leading AIDS researchers.

[Photo: Dr. Quarraisha Abdool Karim]

Dr. Abdool Karim has made pioneering contributions to understanding the HIV epidemic among young people, especially among young women, and is a strong advocate for the rights of people living with and affected by HIV.

In November, Dr. Abdool Karim was named one of seven trailblazing women in science by BBC. Earlier that month, she and her husband Dr. Salim Abdool Karim were honored by the Institute for Human Virology with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service in recognition of their outstanding contributions on the AIDS pandemic. Their research demonstrated that antiretrovirals can also prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and was highlighted by Science as one of the Top 10 scientific breakthroughs in 2010. In 2013, Professor Abdool Karim was awarded South Africa’s highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe, for her contribution to the response to HIV.

“I am delighted that Quarraisha Abdool Karim has accepted this position,” said Mr. 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.”

“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,” said Professor and Dr. Abdool Karim, who is also an Honorary Professor in Public Health at the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations — UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank — and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Honorable Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, minister of health, South Africa, and Dr. Sidibé made the announcement in Capetown at the launch of a new UNAIDS report, Right to Health.