Dr. Tomas Guilarte, dean of the FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, has been appointed to the Miami-Dade County HIV/AIDS “Getting to Zero” Task Force.
[Photo: Dean Thomas Guilarte]
Despite the continuous development of new and improved medical treatment, Miami-Dade County HIV/AIDS statistics are worrisome. In 2014, the area was No. 1 in the United States for new HIV infections per 100,000 residents, with youths ages 13 to 24 accounting for almost 16.3 percent of new infections. Today, there are more than 27,000 people living with HIV or AIDS in the county. Yet through 2015, only 65 percent of those people received regular ongoing medical care. Knowing that if left undiagnosed and untreated, one HIV-positive person can directly and indirectly infect more than 1,000 people in three years, it is crucial for local leaders to come together and address this epidemic.
The “Getting to Zero” Task Force, chaired by Florida Senator Rene Garcia, is a collaboration between the Office of the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, the Miami-Dade HIV/AIDS Partnership, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade and key stakeholders who will work to develop a multipronged approach and action plan to address the county’s AIDS epidemic by accomplishing the following:
The above goals will be pursued with particular focus on the elimination of racial and ethnic health care disparities among newly infected persons as well as moving the county out of its No. 1 national ranking.
Dr. Guilarte took the helm of FIU Stempel College in January. His research has focused on mechanism-based neurotoxicology and neuroscience using behavioral, cellular and molecular approaches, ranging from studies using primary cultures of neural cells to the application of brain imaging technologies. He has published on brain inflammation in individuals infected with HIV.
With more than $7 million in funding awarded over the last three years to FIU Stempel College for research on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Guilarte and his faculty can provide significant knowledge to the Task Force.