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September 2010
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From the President: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

As my term as IDSA president nears its end, I want to tell each of you what an honor it has been to serve as your president during this year of important milestones for the Society.  I am happy to report that IDSA’s commitment to work for the greater good of our patients, public health, and our members remains strong and continues to grow.

A brief look at some noteworthy developments from the previous year—and what’s ahead—underscores how IDSA continues to serve the needs of its diverse membership and ensure that the expertise of ID physicians is continually presented to governmental and public health authorities. Members are IDSA’s most valuable asset, and I thank all of you for your involvement in the Society’s important work. Without you, these efforts simply would not be possible.  I also want to personally thank the many of you who provided outstanding suggestions and advice for future directions.

In April 2010, a special independent Review Panel unanimously agreed that no changes need to be made to IDSA’s 2006 Lyme disease guidelines, bringing an end to an important chapter in this controversial issue (see April 2010 IDSA News article). The extraordinary review, which took more than a year to complete, was expensive and time consuming. But it was absolutely necessary to defend evidence-based medicine and the safety of patients. Carol Baker, MD, FIDSA, did an outstanding job chairing this panel.

As I noted in my last column, IDSA continues to advocate for adequate federal funding for influenza preparedness and to support mandatory influenza vaccination for health care workers (HCWs). IDSA and the Society of Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) recently adopted stronger policies in this regard, calling for influenza vaccination to be a requirement for employment for HCWs (see related article). One thing is clear: Health providers have a professional and ethical obligation to protect themselves and their patients by getting immunized against influenza every year.

The Society also has initiated a major effort to demonstrate the value that ID specialists add to the nation’s health care system. As health care reform is implemented, the need to support ID specialists’ important role is more important than ever. Look no further than the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) decision in 2009 to eliminate payments for inpatient and outpatient consultation services codes, a decision IDSA and many other internal medicine subspecialties opposed and continue to work to reverse (see related article).

IDSA’s support for a broad strategy to address antibiotic resistance remains strong as well, including the Society’s 10 x ’20 initiative, calling for the development of 10 new antibiotics by 2020. We have significantly expanded our outreach to Congress the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and other important partners to highlight the problem and potential solutions, including passage of the Strategies to Address Antimicrobial Resistance (STAAR) Act, an end to inappropriate antibiotic use in food animals, implementation of effective antimicrobial stewardship programs, and the development of a global strategy to address antibiotic resistance.

As a recent example, the Society held a joint workshop in July with FDA and NIAID, two federal agencies critical to addressing the antibiotic resistance problem. The two-day forum brought together key researchers, physicians, and government officials to discuss the science around antibacterial resistance and drug and diagnostics development as well as strategies to enhance the pipeline of new drugs (see July/August 2010 IDSA News article). The workshop is just the latest example in our ongoing initiative to foster the development of new antimicrobials, starting with IDSA’s “Bad Bugs, No Drugs” report, published in 2004, and which has continued to gain momentum under the tireless and dedicated leadership of John G. Bartlett, MD, FIDSA, and David Gilbert, MD, FIDSA.

The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) continues its leadership role in promoting quality in HIV care as founded upon a science-based approach to all aspects of HIV/AIDS, underscored by HIVMA’s recent selection by the International AIDS Society (IAS) as one of two local scientific partners—along with the National Institutes of Health (NIH)—for the 2012 International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. Importantly, the Center for Global Health Policy, a project of IDSA and HIVMA, has become a growing influential voice as well in promoting the effective use of U.S. funding to address the global HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics in the developing world.

Looking ahead, the new year will mark the beginning of a new publishing partnership for IDSA’s highly cited and internationally prestigious journals, Clinical Infectious Diseases and The Journal of Infectious Diseases. Oxford Journals, a division of Oxford University Press, will assume publication of both journals starting Jan. 1, 2011, creating an excellent fit with Oxford Journals’ strong medicine collection and complementary titles in the ID field. Readers and authors will benefit from exciting new resources and tools as well.  We are fortunate that our current editors, Sherwood Gorbach, MD, FIDSA, and Martin Hirsch, MD, FIDSA, will help us manage this transition.

At the Annual Meeting, James Hughes, MD, FIDSA, will assume the role of president of our Society.  I am confident that his leadership will push forward the aggressive agenda that we have established.

To hear more about these and other important Society developments, please join me at the IDSA Business Meeting at the IDSA Annual Meeting on Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Vancouver Convention Center. The meeting is part of a great program for this year’s Annual Meeting, Oct. 21-24. (see related article.) Thank you once again for allowing me to serve you.  See you in Vancouver!
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