Philadelphia FIGHT and The Wistar Institute Host 11th Annual Jonathan Lax Lecture: Michael Saag, M.D., and Martin Delaney to Address Current Issues in the HIV Epidemic

Philadelphia FIGHT and The Wistar Institute Host 11th Annual Jonathan Lax Lecture: Michael Saag, M.D., and Martin Delaney to Address Current Issues in the HIV Epidemic

October 31, 2006

(Philadelphia – November 1, 2006) – Michael Saag M.D., a well-known AIDS researcher who has recently begun a campaign to highlight lack of resources for HIV care, and Martin Delaney, founder of Project Inform, a national treatment advocacy program, will bring a national perspective to people living with HIV in Philadelphia at the 11th Annual Jonathan Lax Memorial Lecture hosted by Philadelphia FIGHT and The Wistar Institute. At 4 p.m. today, Dr. Saag will speak at Wistar on “Health Informatics: The Future of HIV Clinical and Translational Research.” In the evening, Dr. Saag and Mr. Delaney will speak jointly at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. That event will begin with a reception at 6 p.m.

The presentations will focus on the impact of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., where we face increasing cases while resources are shrinking. Dr. Saag’s evening talk “The Emerging Crisis in HIV Care Provision” and Mr. Delaney’s talk “The Changing Paradigm of HIV Treatment,” will highlight this turning point for people living with HIV. Both presentations are designed for a general audience.

Michael Saag, M.D., is Professor of Medicine at the University of Alabama and Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research. Committed to providing comprehensive patient care in conjunction with high quality clinical trials, Dr. Saag has participated in many studies of antiretroviral therapy as well as novel treatments for complications of HIV/AIDS. He directed the “first in patient” studies of 7 of the 21 antiretroviral drugs currently on the market.

Martin Delaney is the Founding Director of Project Inform, one of the nation’s oldest and best-known non-profit organizations working in AIDS. For 20 years he has been a source of highly respected treatment information, and a featured voice in the media and at scientific conferences on AIDS related topics. He was a leading voice working with the FDA in the development of the Parallel Track system, which provided the earliest possible access to new therapies, and in the development of Accelerated Approval regulations, which hastened the approval of all drugs for life threatening illnesses.

Background: In October 2006 the Centers for Disease Control announced a plan to encourage all Americans to be tested for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This would add 250,000-300,000 individuals who are believed to be infected but unaware of their status. An already overburdened HIV treatment system may have difficulty in absorbing these new patients, unless new resources are identified. This year, Congress went home for the election season break without reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act, the major source of funding for HIV/AIDS in the US. This leaves programs, including the Jonathan Lax Treatment Center/Philadelphia FIGHT, with the challenge of caring for an increasing number of patients, but without increasing resources.

Jonathan Lax was the President of the Board of Philadelphia FIGHT when he died of complications of AIDS in 1996. Mr. Lax, a successful businessman, was a leading advocate for bringing information directly to people living with HIV and their families. He devoted personal resources throughout his life to helping people to learn what they needed to know to help them make decisions that would affect their health care as a person living with HIV. In an era before the Internet was widely established as a source of information, Mr. Lax helped FIGHT sponsor many public forums to assure that people living with HIV/AIDS had access to up to date information delivered by recognized specialists.

The Jonathan Lax Memorial Lecture was established by The Wistar Institute and Philadelphia FIGHT after Mr. Lax’s death to honor his legacy in bringing distinguished speakers to a lay audience. Past speakers have included Anthony Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Paul Farmer, M.D., of Partners in Health, and David Ho, M.D., of Rockefeller University.

Major funding for the 11th Annual Jonathan Lax Memorial Lecture was provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.

Philadelphia FIGHT is an AIDS Service Organization offering HIV treatment, education and outreach programs to people living with HIV/AIDS and those at high risk. The Wistar Institute is an independent biomedical research center in Philadelphia with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Current research is focused on creating an HIV vaccine and in developing improved HIV-AIDS treatment strategies.

The Wistar Institute is an international leader in biomedical research, with special expertise in cancer research and vaccine development. Founded in 1892 as the first independent nonprofit biomedical research institute in the country, Wistar has long held the prestigious Cancer Center designation from the National Cancer Institute. Discoveries at Wistar have led to the creation of the rubella vaccine that eradicated the disease in the U.S., rabies vaccines used worldwide, and a new rotavirus vaccine approved in 2006. Wistar scientists have also identified many cancer genes and developed monoclonal antibodies and other important research tools. Today, Wistar is home to eminent melanoma researchers and pioneering scientists working on experimental vaccines against flu, HIV, and other diseases. The Institute works actively to transfer its inventions to the commercial sector to ensure that research advances move from the laboratory to the clinic as quickly as possible. The Wistar Institute: Today’s Discoveries – Tomorrow’s Cures. On the web at www.wistar.org.

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