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Interns Get AIDS History Update

The old adage that those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it spurred four management interns at NIH to sponsor a seminar for the intern community and others entitled "The NIH Administrative Areas — Enduring the AIDS Epidemic." The seminar, the third in the Management Seminar Series for 2002, was held Mar. 6 at the Natcher Conference Center.

The presentation stemmed from the interns' desire to show future NIH leaders the important relationship between NIH scientific and administrative areas. Due to its devastating worldwide impact, the AIDS epidemic made an ideal model. The seminar highlighted the roles of communication, budget and legislation during the early years of the AIDS epidemic and resulting unrest on the NIH campus.

The speakers are current NIH leaders who were also employees during the first years of the epidemic. They shared their personal work experiences and explained how the epidemic not only affected NIH but also the nation.

Keynote speaker Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIAID, gave an overview of the epidemic from the first reported AIDS cases in Los Angeles and New York City to the latest reports on NIH's efforts to develop an AIDS vaccine. Donald Poppke, NLM executive officer, took the audience on an historic journey through his experience as a former management intern working in the budget community at HHS from the inception of the epidemic. Interns Keri-Lyn Wall and Walter Mitton presented a 20-year AIDS history overview including video news clips of the May 1990 AIDS activist demonstration on the NIH campus. The NIH historian, Dr. Victoria Harden, summarized the presentation with an overview of AIDS history.

Flanking keynote speaker Dr. Anthony Fauci (c), director of NIAID, are management interns (from l) Keri-Lyn Wall, Walter Mitton, Joan Romaine and Candace Deaton.

Donald Ralbovsky, media spokesman for NIH's Office of Communications and Public Liaison, presented his first-hand accounts of how the media handled the epidemic and the effect it had on the flow of information from the communications office to the American public. Roz Gray, deputy director of OD's Office of Legislative Policy and Analysis, discussed two decades of AIDS legislation including the story of Congress embracing the teenage hemophiliac and AIDS victim Ryan White, and passing the Ryan White CARE Act that provides emergency funding for those suffering with HIV/AIDS.

Through these accounts, attendees learned important lessons on how rapidly a health crisis can affect and alter the routine functions of administrative areas.

Roz Gray discussed AIDS legislation.

The hosting interns feel strongly that the early ramifications of the epidemic should not be forgotten. The current figures on HIV/AIDS are staggering: Worldwide, more than 60 million people have been infected since the pandemic began, of whom more than 20 million have died. More than 14,000 people are infected with HIV every day, and AIDS kills 8,000 people a day.

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