Skip Navigation
AOA banner
Chapter History
News and Events
AIDS Symposium
Awards and Fellowships
National AOA Website
key logo
AIDS Symposium 2002

Click here to view pictures from the 2002 Symposium


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

The 2002 edition of MUSC's AIDS Symposium marked the 10th Anniversary of this organization. This is the best proof for the vitality and pertinence of the symposium, whose goals remained similar to those of previous editions, 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:

  • L.W. Preston Church, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases 
  • Victor Del Bene, Associate Dean for Students 
  • Gillian MP Galbraith, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Sebastiano Gattoni-Celli, M.D., Ph.D. 
  • Alyssa Humphrey, College of Medicine 
  • Tariq Javed, College of Dental Medicine 
  • Bert Keller, Department of Family Medicine 
  • Virginia King, Lowcountry AIDS Services 
  • Steve London, Department of Microbiology and Immunology 
  • Bryce Nelson, College of Medicine 
  • Erin Presnell, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine  
  • Sally Self, Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 
  • Gabriel Virella, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Chairman

The program of the 2002 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 20th by Julie McElrath, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), University of Washington, Seattle; Senior Investigator, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA. Dr. McElrath’s topic was “The Intricate Relationship Between HIV and The Immune System.” Three lectures were presented on Thursday, November 21st: “Novel Treatment Approaches to HIV Infection” by J. Michael Kilby, M.D., FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Medical Director of the UAB HIV Clinic, University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Clinical Trials of HIV Vaccines” by Julie McElrath, M.D., Ph.D., 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. David Potts, M.D., FACP; Chief of Infectious Disease, Anderson Medical Center, Anderson S.C., delivered the fifth lecture. Dr. Potts spoke on “What To Do While Waiting for the Specialist?”

The MUSC chapter of AOA sponsored Dr. Julie McElrath's visit; Dr. J. Michael Kilby’s participation was made possible by funds granted by GlaxoSmithKline; Bristol-Myers Squibb sponsored the lectures by Drs. David Reznik and David Potts. Other sponsors included MUSC's Dean’s Office and 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, three 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, Pathology & Lab Medicine, David Shackelford, Radiology, Stacey McKenzie, Infectious Diseases and Gabriel Virella, Microbiology and Immunology. The symposium closed with a training session on “Aspects of AIDS Prevention” conducted by Mr. Jim Sacco and sponsored by the Dean’s office.

The attendance to this year’s symposium was excellent in all sessions. Most sophomore medical students were in attendance, as well as dental students, and students from the Physician Assistant Program, faculty members and community physicians. 

Ninety-four evaluation forms were returned. Ninety-nine percent of the respondents strongly agreed or agreed with the statement "The symposium was well organized." Ninety-eight percent agreed with the statement "The information presented was relevant to their education." Ninety- seven percent agreed or strongly agreed with an "excellent" evaluation for the symposium and 98% 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 3.66, well above our previous highest score of 3.53 recorded in 1997. Over 90% 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 3.08 to 3.83 on the scale described above.

Concerning the specific sessions included in the symposium, the highest approval rating was obtained by the panel on "HIV Infection: The Patient's Perspective" (3.83 rating), closely followed by the AIDS prevention training session which had a rating of 3.82. Dr. David Pott’s lecture on “What To Do While Waiting for the Specialist?” was the best rated lecture (3.77) followed by Dr. David Reznick’s lecture on “Oral Manifestations of HIV/AIDS” (3.72 rating). The rating of the “Clinico-Pathological Aspects of AIDS” (3.36) was lower than the previous high (3.59 in 2001) and the panel discussion on “AIDS and the Health Care Worker” obtained a rating of 3.28, also below previous highest ratings (3.52 in 2001). The remaining lectures rated below these events, ranging from a rating of 3.42 for the lecture on “Novel Treatment Approaches to HIV Infection” presented by Dr. Michael Kilby, to a rating of 2.56 for the opening lecture by Dr. Julie McElrath.

The written comments paralleled the ratings obtained from the evaluation forms. Most frequent criticisms were directed at Dr. McElrath’s lectures, which were judged too technical and research-oriented. It is worth noting that strongly positive feedback was expressed by many faculty members that did not return written evaluations. The student’s criticisms are a cause for concern because they coincide with other manifestations of an anti-science bias of our medical students, encapsulated by statements such as “give us the facts and skip the experiments”. As it was the case in previous years, 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. This may be a special problem in the case of freshman dental students, who have had no previous exposure to Microbiology. This problem will be addressed once again with the Dental School’s administration. Many positive comments were directed to the closing training session by Mr. Sacco, and to Drs. Pott’s and Reznick's lecture, the "HIV Infection: The Patient's Perspective" panel, the CPC, and Dr. McElrath's opening lecture. A particularly well-articulated comment, supported by verbal comments from several students, focused on the need to dedicate more time to a discussion of the specific aspects of the AIDS epidemic among African-Americans. 

In conclusion, this was a very successful edition of the symposium, again raising the pleasant challenge of trying to equal or surpass this edition with next year’s. The enthusiastic support of the participants, especially the patients, Jim Sacco, and Drs. Reznick and Potts, is outstanding and major factor leading to the success of the symposium. Our sponsors – AOA, GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and MUSC’s Dean’s Office – enable its realization and deserve our gratitude. Thanks are also given to the members of the Organizing Committee, and particularly Drs. Del Bene and Gattoni-Celli, who gave their unqualified and essential support to the Symposium. 

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