India’s groundbreaking HIV researcher Dr Suniti Solomon, who was the first to introduce to the world the prevalence of HIV in India in the year 1986 has passed away at her residence recently. She was also the one who successfully led research into treatment of the deadly virus.
Members of the family told sources that she had been under treatment for liver cancer for over two months.
Ganesh and Krishnan of Y R Gaitonde Center for AIDS Research and Education said that her death was sudden and that she had been undergoing treatment for two months for liver cancer.
Dr Suniti Solomon was the founder-director of the Center, a premier HIV/AIDS care and support center located in Chennai.
Dr Suniti Solomon had along with her colleagues documented the first evidence of HIV infection in India in the year 1986 when blood samples of six commercial sex workers were tested positive. The sex workers were staying in a government home.
The samples were then sent to Christian Medical College in Vellore and were later sent to a facility in the USA, where they were tested HIV positive.
This spurted a series of research as well as training for medical and paramedical professionals on HIV infection alongside putting in place a treatment plan for those who were already affected. Her HIV studies include the US National Institute of Mental Health’s multi-country HIV/STD Prevention Trial.
While working as a professor of microbiology at the Madras Medical College and Government General Hospital, she had set up the first voluntary testing as well as counseling centre and an AIDS Research Group in Chennai.
She has extensively published papers on HIV epidemiology, care, prevention, support as well as related gender issues.
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