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AIDS Symposium 2001


The 2000 edition of MUSC's AIDS Symposium was organized following the general guidelines that presided over the previous editions. The symposium's goals have remained unchanged - to give the students adequate exposure to the multiple aspects of HIV infection and AIDS and to help them fully realize the magnitude of the global epidemic of AIDS and its ramifications. The symposium is organized and presented as a model of a Continuing Education activity. This was stressed in the opening statement delivered by Dr. Victor Del Bene, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Students, College of Medicine.

The Organizing Committee for this year's edition of the symposium was constituted by the following members:

  • Victor Del Bene, Associate Dean for Students 
  • L.W. Preston Church, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases 
  • Kimberly Collins, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine  
  • Gillian MP Galbraith, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Tariq Javed, College of Dental Medicine 
  • Virginia King, Lowcountry AIDS Services 
  • Lucille London, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Steve London, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Erin McConnell Presnell, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine  
  • Jason Robinson, Senior, COM 
  • Sally Self, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 
  • Gabriel Virella, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chairman 
  • Jennifer Young, Senior, COM 

The program of the 2001 AIDS Symposium included five lectures, two panel discussions, a Clinico-Pathological Conference, and a training session. The lectures included the AOA opening lecture delivered on Wednesday, November 14th by Barney Graham, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Vaccine Research Center at NIH, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. Dr. Graham’s topic was "HIV Vaccine Development: A Global Imperative."  Three lectures were presented on Thursday, November 16th: Complications of Anti-Retroviral Therapy by Harold A. Kessler, M.D., Professor of Medicine & Immunology/Microbiology Rush Medical College, Chicago, Associate Director, Rush Section of Infectious Diseases, Clinical Trials of HIV Vaccines, Barney Graham, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Investigator, Vaccine Research Center at NIH, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda MD. and “Oral Manifestations of HIV/AIDS” by David Reznik, D.D.S., Director of the Oral Health Center Infectious Disease Program, Grady Health System, Atlanta, GA. Dr. Susan E. Cohn, M.D., M.P.H. Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, delivered the fifth lecture. Dr. Cohn spoke on "HIV/AIDS in Women.”

The MUSC chapter of AOA, which is a regular supporter of this activity, sponsored Dr. Barney Graham's visit; Dr. Kessler's participation was made possible by funds granted by GlaxoSmith-Kline; Bristol-Myers Squibb sponsored Dr. Reznik’s lecture. Other sponsors included Chiron Corporation and MUSC's Department of Microbiology & Immunology. 
The symposium included two panel discussions. The first, on “HIV Infection: The Patient’s Perspective” was moderated by Ms. Virginia King, Trident HIV Prevention Collaboration Coordinator at Lowcountry AIDS Services, four HIV-positive individuals participated in this panel. The second panel discussion was on “AIDS and the Health Care Worker", this was moderated by Dr. G. Virella and included as participants Victor Del Bene, M.D., Associate Dean for Students, MUSC College of Medicine; Joseph C. Good, MUSC Legal Counsel; Edward Herschaft, D.D.S., Professor of Stomatology; MUSC, Preston Church, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine-Infectious Diseases, MUSC; Albert Keller, D.Min., Associate Professor of Medical Ethics, MUSC. 

MUSC faculty presented a Clinico-Pathological Conference on the "Clinico-Pathological Aspects of AIDS" in the afternoon of the opening day. It was moderated by Dr. Victor Del Bene, Professor of Medicine and Associate Dean for Students and participants included Drs. Sally Self, M.D., Pathology & Lab Medicine, Steve Schabel, M.D., Radiology, Stacey McKenzie, M.D, Infectious Diseases and Gabriel Virella, M.D., Ph.D., Microbiology and Immunology. The symposium closed with a training session on “Aspects of AIDS Prevention” conducted by Mr. Jim Sacco.

The attendance to this year’s symposium was one of the best (if not the best) ever, particularly at the opening lecture and Thursday sessions. Most sophomore medical students from the traditional curriculum were in attendance, as well as medical students from the Parallel Curriculum, dental students, graduate students, students from the Physician Assistant Program, faculty members and community physicians. 

Eighty-five evaluation forms were returned (better that last year but not as good as in earlier editions). Ninety nine percent of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statements that "The symposium was well organized," and that "The information presented was relevant to their education." Ninety eight percent agreed or strongly agreed with an "excellent" evaluation for the symposium (equaling the previous best of 98% recorded in 1997), and 96% believed that the emphasis of the program met with their educational needs. The overall rating score of the symposium on a scale of 0 (minimum) to 4.0 (maximum) was 3.52, equal to last year's rating, and 0.01 below our best of 3.53 recorded in 1997. Over 85% of the students appeared to believe that all the different generic objectives for the symposium were met.  The rating scores for the questions concerning objectives ranged from 3.37 to 3.69 on the scale described above.

Concerning the specific sessions included in the symposium, the highest approval rating was obtained by the lecture on “Oral Manifestations of HIV/AIDS” (3.86 rating), closely followed by the panel on "HIV Infection: The Patient's Perspective" (3.84 rating), followed by the “Clinico-Pathological Aspects of AIDS” (rating of 3.59, well above the ratings in the last two previous years (2.96 in 2000 and 3.48 in 1999). The AIDS prevention training session had a rating of 3.56, below last year's rating of 3.89 rating, and the panel discussion on “AIDS and the Health Care Worker” obtained a rating of 3.47, slightly below last year's rating of 3.52, the highest ever. The remaining lectures rated below these events, ranging from a rating of 3.13 for the opening lecture by Dr. Graham to the lowest rating for any event included in this symposium, given to Dr. Cohn's lecture on HIV/AIDS in women (2.67). 

The written comments paralleled the ratings obtained from the evaluation forms. Most frequent criticisms were directed at Dr. Cohn's lecture, which was judged not too interesting. Other criticisms, seen in previous years as well, were directed at the length of the Symposium (sitting too long) and at the lack of a free lunch on Thursday. There were also scattered comments about lack of relevance for special groups of students, that seem to reflect more on a lack of perspective of the student, than on real weaknesses of the symposium. It should be noted that the CPC, target of the highest number of negative comments last year, was highly appreciated this year, perhaps as a consequence of its re-scheduling early in the afternoon. Many positive comments were directed to Dr. Reznick's lecture, the "HIV Infection: The Patient's Perspective" panel, the CPC, Dr. Graham's opening lecture, and the closing training session by Mr. Sacco. Several students suggested that more time should be allocated to the panel on “AIDS and the Health Care Worker”.

In conclusion, this was a very successful edition of the Symposium, and our challenge is to continue matching the quality of previous symposia. Dr. Reznic and Mr. Sacco have agreed to participate in next year's edition, and their presence will be a very positive factor. 

Finally, a word of thanks to all those that contributed to the success of the 2000 AIDS Symposium – members of the organizing committee, sponsors, students, invited lecturers, panel moderators and discussants, and particularly, to Dr. Victor Del Bene, whose enthusiastic support has been fundamental to the insertion of this symposium in the COM curriculum, of which it has become a permanent and outstanding feature.

Gabriel Virella, M.D., Ph.D.
Chairman, AIDS Symposium Organizing Committee