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November 2008
Vol. 18 No. 11
From the President
Change is in the Air

I am assuming the presidency of IDSA at a time when change is in the air. For nearly a year, the U.S. presidential candidates campaigned on platforms of change. The election has brought a new president and a shift in the balance of power in Congress, and there are sure to be many changes on the way.

One change we hope to see pertains to science policy. Over the past several years, the scientific community has spoken out repeatedly in favor of policies that are well-grounded in sound science, rather than ideology. IDSA and HIVMA have criticized abstinence-only sexuality education and we have supported needle-exchange programs for injecting drug users. Obama advisors are on record saying that science will play a more central role in decision-making in the new administration.

We hope science will take its rightful place in other issues important to public health, including vaccine safety and Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment. IDSA and HIVMA wrote to both presidential candidates during the campaign to encourage them to pursue science-based policies. We will continue to serve as a resource on these issues. We also will continue to advocate for improved funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cornerstones of our nation’s scientific research and public health endeavors. 

One area we hope does not change with the new presidency is the U.S. commitment to addressing the global HIV/AIDS epidemic. Despite our disagreements on some issues, we salute the Bush administration for its extraordinary leadership in this arena. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief contributed to the remarkable improvements in access to HIV care among some of the world’s poorest people. In the current economic climate, there is a danger that politicians will lose the political will to commit to this program.

This makes another change all the more welcome: the opening of the new IDSA/HIVMA Infectious Diseases Center for Global Health Policy and Advocacy. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center will provide decision-makers with the best available evidence on what works and what needs to be done to control HIV and tuberculosis (TB). You recently received a survey about your involvement and interest in global HIV and TB. If you haven’t already done so, please take five minutes to fill it out. The new Center will derive its strength from the expertise and involvement of our members.

Another historic change took place this fall: For the first time in 11 years, the IDSA Annual Meeting and the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) were held together. Whether this was change for the better is up to you. ICAAC/IDSA drew nearly 16,000 people to Washington, DC for an exciting, content-rich joint meeting featuring timely updates and the latest in infectious diseases research. We are evaluating attendee feedback in order to help make a decision on future meetings. In the meantime, IDSA returns to its solo meeting next year in Philadelphia. We look forward to seeing you there.

In the midst of all this historic change, a number of things will stay the same. IDSA’s commitment to its members, to attracting the best and brightest to the specialty of infectious diseases, and to expanding our global reach remains strong. I look forward to serving as your president.


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