As if her huge plate of work was not enough. Prof Datuk Dr. Adeeba Kamarulzaman is now taking on another important task.
As the president-elect of the International AIDS Society (IAS).
Her appointment also means that she is the first Asian to helm the world’s largest association of HIV professionals. (Make that more than 12,000 members from 120 countries).
Although she will officially become president in July next year during the society’s conference in San Francisco. United States, Dr. Adeeba has already started work.
“It is a tremendous honor to have been elected as the president-elect for this society, especially as the first Asian President. Only the fourth from the global south,” she told Malay Mail.
The infectious diseases expert added that she was initially anxious as it was a huge responsibility.
“I am also excited because we are at a juncture in the HIV epidemic where we have so much knowledge and so many tools to mount an effective response,” she said.
Dr. Adeeba is well-known nationally and globally as an advocate and medical professional in the fight to end AIDS.
She was formerly Malaysian AIDS Council president and remains Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman.
And if that wasn’t enough, the Malay Mail Care Fund trustee is also a member of the newly-formed National Health Advisory Council besides being University of Malaya medical faculty dean (she remains the only woman to helm the position).
She graduated from Monash University in 1987 and was trained in internal medicine and infectious diseases at the Monash Medical Centre and Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
Dr. Adeeba set up the infectious diseases unit at the University Malaya Medical Centre upon returning to Malaysia in 1997.
When it comes to HIV research, she is still involved in UM’s Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS which she established.
Among the responsibilities that she has when it comes to IAS was planning the program for the just-concluded HIV Science Conference in Mexico City and doing the same for the upcoming International AIDS Conference in San Francisco.
She will from now together with Professor Hendrik Streek director of the Institute for HIV Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany be starting to plan for the Berlin Conference in 2021 which she will co-chair with Professor Streek.
“Aside from that I have been involving myself in a few of the other programs that IAS is involved in such as on HIV associated tuberculosis and stigma,” she added.
“Additionally, IAS is undertaking a major governance review of the organization and a review of the conferences itself. Needless to say, it keeps me very busy with frequent teleconferences.”
Plans for IAS
Dr. Adeeba also said that she would like to shine the spotlight on the HIV epidemic in South East Asia and Asia during her tenure as president.
“As a region, we appear to be lacking behind the African countries in achieving the 90-90-90 targets, with the exception of Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam.”
The 90-90-90 targets were set by UNAIDS and envision that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their status.
In addition to this, its goal is also for 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV will have “sustained antiretroviral therapy” and 90 percent of people on antiretroviral therapy will have the virus suppressed.
She wants to focus more on key populations because in our region including in Malaysia individuals who are most at risk are those from these populations. This includes focusing more on stigma we are one of the most important barriers towards achieving epidemic control. This besides also continuing her work on drug policy reform.
“This is crucial if we want to control HIV among people who inject drugs,” she said.
Dr.Adeeba has already scored a major win together with her colleagues in Malaysia when it comes to decriminalizing drug use following the recent announcement of the government about the move.
She admitted that there remains much to be done in terms of implementation.
“What needs to be done includes an expansion of the treatment programs, training of relevant staff involved including healthcare and law enforcement professionals and a review of the relevant laws,” she added.