UH Med Now

Getting Hawaiʻi to Zero; UH Clinics at Kakaʻako Blessed

Date: December 21st, 2015 in Breakthoughs, JABSOM News, Research, University Health Partners (UHP)    Print or PDF

Attendees with the maile lei untied during a ceremony.

by Vina Cristobal, UH Med Now journalist

The Hawaiʻi Center for AIDS (HICFA) at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) launched the “Hawaiʻi 2 Zero (H20) Cure Initiative” on December 5; a multi-million dollar fundraising effort to decrease the number of AIDS cases in Hawaiʻi to zero, and to find a cure for HIV. Hawaiʻi State Department of Health estimates that between 2,600 and 2,900 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Hawaiʻi. However, there may be others that have contracted the disease and are not aware of their HIV status.

The H20 Conference, held in the UH Cancer Center Sullivan Center next door to JABSOM, opened with an oli performed by Lauleipuaokalani “Pua” Coen, program director for HICFA at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Conference keynote speakers included the Director of the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, Dr. Virginia Pressler (a JABSOM graduate); Dr. Mario Stevenson, an HIV Researcher from the University of Miami Leonard Miller School of Medicine; Dr. Lishomwa Ndhlovu and Dr. Cecilia Shikuma of HICFA; and Timothy Ray Brown, the first man to be functionally cured of HIV/AIDS.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Dr. Pressler, who mentioned that it is encouraging that Hawaiʻi has come a long way in terms of innovation in HIV/AIDS treatment. But she added that it is evident there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Hawaiʻi has been the first state to do many things. We are an incredibly unified, collaborative community. If anyone can do this, we can, so let’s be the first to get to zero,” said Dr. Pressler.

Dr. Shikuma discussed the nature of antiretroviral therapy and medicines that could alleviate the side effects of HIV/AIDS.

Dr. Stevenson thanked Timothy Brown for inspiring doctors to find a definite cure for AIDS, which he considered the ‘holy grail in AIDS research.’

After the conference, guests gathered for a small luncheon and the blessing and unveiling of the UH Clinics at Kakaʻako, which opened to the public on December 21.

Click to view photos from the Hawaiʻi to Zero Conference, by UH Med Now photojournalist Amanda Shell.


Timothy Brown 190x240


Full remarks by Timothy Brown, first person cured of HIV/AIDS

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