IU to present Dr Anthony Fauci with leadership award during webinar on Monday

The UI School of Public Health in partnership with the Rural AIDS / STD Prevention Center will present Dr.Anthony Fauci with the Ryan White Distinguished Leadership Award during a webinar at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated excellent work in the fight against HIV / AIDS. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, has worked to promote AIDS education and research during his 37 years as a director.

RCAP Senior Director and Head Professor Dr William Yarber worked closely with Ryan White’s mother Jeanne White-Ginder to establish the award in 2009. Since then the award has been presented to 14 people, the first of which is White-Ginder. , in honor of White’s legacy.

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White, originally from Indiana, was diagnosed with AIDS as a result of a blood transfusion in 1984. He became a national face of the epidemic after enduring social and health problems and being denied l access to his school. Since his death in 1990, Yarber said his mother White-Ginder worked to continue his story.

Yarber said he was eager to hear White-Ginder speak during Monday’s webinar.

“His words touch the hearts of those who listen,” Yarber said.

Yarber said he and White-Ginder wanted to recognize Fauci for the work he has done in AIDS research and education and his dedication to science. Fauci and White-Ginder originally became connected through their work together on the Ryan White CARE Act, which protected federal funding of HIV / AIDS-related resources for low-income or uninsured citizens in the United States.

Yarber said he was grateful for Fauci to join even for a short time, although they were unsure if he could due to his work on the pandemic.

For Yarber, Fauci’s dedication to science, although his role is so closely tied to politics, is what makes his work so admirable.

“It’s a delicate job he has,” Yarber said. “He’s a civil servant, he works for the president, but yet he’s a scientist. And he was able to navigate the defense of science and truth, and not be guided by politics. He is criticized a lot, but he is also revered. That is why we pay tribute to him.

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Yarber said he and White-Ginder created the award not only to recognize outstanding work in HIV / AIDS research, but also to solidify White’s legacy in Indiana and at university.

“He wanted to go to school here and died a few months before that,” Yarber said. “Another reason we created this award 14 or 15 years ago was that not only would it recognize exceptional people, but it would allow Ryan to stay connected to Indiana University forever. Even though he couldn’t go to school here, we haven’t forgotten about him.

Dr Brandon Howell, associate dean of the School of Public Health, also stressed the importance of remembering White.

“As the story goes, more and more people don’t know Ryan’s story,” Howell said. “So getting this out to the public, especially with Ryan’s 50th birthday, is very special. “

The event webinar format was hosted by Amy Oakley, Director of Outreach at the School of Public Health. Oakely said it was by far the biggest online event the school has ever hosted and that there were 985 registered by noon on December 5. The event will reach its maximum capacity of 1,000 viewers. Event registration is available here.

Oakley said it made an effort to keep the event safe for viewers, given Fauci’s notoriety and the sheer number of people in attendance.

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“Noting that there has been some controversy around Dr Fauci and his work on COVID-19, we had to make the decision to move to a webinar from Zoom,” Oakley said. “We did this primarily for security purposes, so that we don’t have to deal with Zoom bombing or things of that nature.”

Holly Thrasher, another outreach specialist for the school, said she thinks some people may believe HIV and AIDS are a thing of the past, but it’s important to remember that it’s still still work to do.

“At least I think it helps continue to shine the spotlight on a public health issue and a quality of life issue that has not been resolved for most of the population,” Thrasher said. “It’s just as real as ever and it’s important to keep the dialogue going. “

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