The AIDS virus was first discovered by Dr Suniti Solomon in India in 1986. Last week she delivered a speech on 'Frontline perspectives from India: Progress and challenges in combating the HIV/AIDS virus' in New York.
Dr Solomon is the founder-director of the premier HIV/AIDS care and support centre in Chennai, the Y R Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education.
The campaign was titled -- 'We All Have AIDS' and it brought together several key leaders from science, politics, entertainment and society to highlight the terrible stigma associated with those living with HIV/AIDS.
Some of the kew leaders of the event were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela,Sir Elton John, actors Tom Hanks, Richard Gere, Will Smith, Ashley Judd, Whoopi Goldberg, Elizabeth Taylor, Alicia Keys, Sharon Stone and Olympic legend, diver Greg Louganis among others.
The current president of the AIDS Society of India, Dr Solomon, is the Indian principal investigator of several pioneering HIV research studies like the Infectious Diseases' HIV Prevention Trial Networks, US National Institute of Mental Health's multi-country HIV/STD Prevention Trial and the US National Institute of Allergy. AVAHAN, the India HIV/AIDS initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also has her as a member on the board.
Dr Solomon decided to start an ICU exclusively for those suffering with HIV/AIDS in Chennai in 2002, when Ashok Pillai, then president of the Indian Network of Positive Persons, died because of lack of a ventillator.