Dr Suniti Solomon contributed to working
towards HIV which startled the medical fraternity back in 1987 and pushed the
government to act.
In 1986, Dr Solomon, then a microbiologist
at Madras Medical College, and her team for the first time documented evidence
of HIV infection in India. She rendered her service to medicine to save and
make lives for 30 years. She passed away due to cancer at the age of 76 in
"More than the virus itself, Dr Solomon was concerned about the stigma HIV positive people faced," said Dr D Dhanikachalam, head of technical support unit, Tamil Nadu State Aids Control
Society (TANSACS). "When the epidemic was first discovered, people were
afraid to go close to those with HIV. She felt the pain they went through and
worked to fight not just the virus but the discrimination too," he said.
She was trained in pathology in the UK and
the US, her experience covered a range of aspects linked to HIV infection,
biomedical parameters to socio-economics. She also published papers extensively
on HIV epidemiology, prevention, care, support and related gender issues.
Dr Suniti Solomon moved beyond research to
set up Y R Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE), a
premier HIV/AIDS care and support center, in Chennai. In 2012, Dr Suniti Solomon
was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service on HIV/AIDS by the
state-run Dr MGR Medical University.
"She was a no nonsense person with a high
sense of commitment. Her work is testified through hundreds of publications and
her contribution is acknowledged across the world. As a teacher, she taught
over 25 batches of students in MMC," Dr Sundararaman.