Stronger medical infrastructure is needed for biopreparedness, says co-discoverer of AIDS virus

Dr. Robert C. Gallo is the Co-Founder of the Global Virus Network and Director of the Institute of Human Virology. | Courtesy of the University of Maryland

As the international scientific director of the Global Virus Network (GVN), Dr. Robert Gallo says that the United States must make medical infrastructure and other infrastructure in urban centers stronger to improve its readiness for biological emergencies.

“There are attempts to become adequately prepared for events such as Anthrax or Ebola but one can always find significant areas for improvement, and certainly we can improve preparedness for these kinds of potential outbreaks,” Gallo said. “I proposed back in 2008 that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program that we have for Africa and other countries be extended to U.S. urban centers perhaps by using biosecurity funds so that there are more medical contacts and infrastructure abilities in the U.S.”

Government agencies, state, federal and international, can enhance domestic bio-preparedness by improving medical infrastructure for cities in the United States, Gallo told BioPrepWatch.

“I co-founded the Global Virus Network (GVN) in part for this very purpose,” Gallo said. I think federal and international governments might take advantage of the GVN to keep better informed and to have immediate contact to experts. Also, significant additions in the training of young medical virologists need to occur, which is a focus of the GVN.”

Dr. Gallo is known for his research into human retroviruses, particularly Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). In 1982, Gallo proposed that Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was caused by a retrovirus, and in 1984, he was part of the team that discovered HIV and identified the retrovirus as the cause of AIDS. He has worked on domestic bio-preparedness projects as the international scientific director of the GVN.

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