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May 14, 2012

State epidemiologist selected to lead HIV/AIDS program

COLUMBIA, S.C. - James "Jerry" Gibson, M.D., has been selected by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share leadership of an HIV/AIDS treatment and care program in Tanzania, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

"We are honored that one of our own will take on this important challenge, but he will be greatly missed at DHEC. We appreciate his impressive list of accomplishments from his nearly 20-year tenure with us," said Lisa Waddell, M.D., DHEC's deputy director of health services. "At the forefront of that list is his implementation of regional epidemiology teams that investigate disease outbreaks of all sizes and varieties. Dr Gibson also conducted a competitive, CDC-funded innovative syphilis control project and maintained South Carolina's child immunization coverage at a level above more than 30 other states."

Dr. Gibson will move to Tanzania to work with the U.S. HIV/AIDS treatment and care program serving the East African nation. He will share program leadership with a Tanzanian physician. Tanzania has a population of 45 million. Its adult HIV infection rate of 2 to 5 percent is about 10 times the U.S. rate.

"The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program of HIV treatment clinics began several years ago in Tanzania, but at this time it can only offer life-saving treatment to a small fraction of those who need it," Dr. Waddell said. "Dr. Gibson will be a part of efforts to rapidly increase the number of people who can be offered treatment in the next year, as well as build strong quality assurance and accountability into the HIV clinic system."

Dr. Gibson began his DHEC career in 1993 as director of the agency's Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology. He was promoted to director of DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control in 2000. In that role, he served as the state epidemiologist and has been responsible for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis, general communicable disease control, the state's immunization program, and for the investigation of environmental health threats. Dr. Gibson previously served the CDC in an international immunization role.


Note to reporters and editors: A photo of Dr. Gibson is available upon request.

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Adam Myrick - (803) 898-3884
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