The Columns

Pioneer Activist for AIDS Awareness, Prevention to Speak at W&L

— by on March 13th, 2012

Dr. Mervyn Silverman, a member of the board of directors of The American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) since 1986 and its current secretary, will speak at Washington and Lee University on Monday, March 19, at 7:30 p.m. in Lee Chapel.

Tickets are required, but free, to Silverman’s lecture, which is open to the public.  Tickets must be picked up prior to the event at the W&L Box Office in the Lenfest Center for the Arts. The lecture is sponsored by the Lenfest Center for the Arts and, in part, by the GLBTQ Equality Initiative at W&L.

Silverman has worked in the field of public health and preventative medicine for over 40 years. He has dealt with public policy, community and government relations, and the media on local, state and international levels.

As director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health during the 1970s, Silverman was one of the first responders to the outbreak of AIDS. His department launched a citywide program to combat the growing AIDS epidemic, shutting down bathhouses and promoting safe sex. That model program has since been replicated nationwide.

In the process, he and his colleagues became the first AIDS activists on the West Coast.

Silverman, a 1960 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has dedicated his entire career to these causes. He was president of amfAR from 1986 through 1996 and was its national spokesperson from 1986 through 1995. He served as chairman of amfAR’s annual National HIV/AIDS Update Conference, became chairman amfAR’s program board in 2009 and chair of that board’s program advisory council in 2010.

Other directorships Silverman has held are of the Robert Wood Johnson AIDS Health Services Program; the Department of Community Health in Wichita, Kan.; Planned Parenthood in Kansas; the Office of Consumer Affairs for the Food and Drug Administration; and the East Asia and Pacific Regional Medical Office of the Peace Corps.

Among his academic appointments are faculty positions at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine; the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine; and the University of Hawaii School of Public Health.

Silverman has been interviewed on radio and television, including on CBS and CNN, “The McNeil-Lehrer Report,” “20/20” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and in print media in the U.S. and abroad. Among his recent honors are designation as a Public Health Hero by the University of California, Berkeley; the Heroes in Medicine Award by the Association of Physicians in AIDS Care; and amfAR’s Award of Courage.

Silverman received his M.D. from Tulane University School of Medicine and his M.P.H. from Harvard University. Currently he provides health-care consulting services as president of Mervyn F. Silverman & Associates Inc., based in California.

The 2011-2012 academic year marks the 30th anniversary of the first known case of a death from AIDS-related causes in the U.S. W&L asked Silverman to speak as part of the University’s commemoration of this anniversary and of World AIDS Day.

News Contact:
Julie Cline
News Writer
jcline@wlu.edu
540-458-8954