Thurman focuses on global health care reform

Sandra Thurman. Submitted photo.

This article originally appeared on Page 1 of the Tuesday, June 28, issue of The Chautauquan Daily

Patrick Hosken | Staff Writer

Since the mid-1980s, Sandra Thurman has been fighting for AIDS education and prevention throughout the world. As director of Emory University’s Interfaith Health Program, she leads health practitioners into different faith regions to bring about community health improvements.

At 10:45 a.m. today, she will bring her diverse experience to the Amphitheater.

Thurman’s journey began over two decades ago in Georgia, when she began volunteering at AID Atlanta, a local non-profit organization dedicated to finding care and support for HIV and AIDS victims.

Before long, she led AID Atlanta into marked success with increasing staff and volunteers.

The nonprofit group grew into a much larger organization, with 83 percent of its workers providing direct HIV services.

From 1993 until 1996, Thurman remained in Atlanta as Director of Advocacy Programs at The Task Force for Child Survival and Development at the Carter Center. Keeping her sights on global health reform, she undertook initiatives regarding children’s immunization and the eradication of polio.

In 1997, President Bill Clinton appointed Thurman director of the Office of National AIDS Policy in the White House, a position she held until 2001. Thurman’s leadership proved successful, and the U.S. government multiplied its funding for HIV and AIDS programs both at home and abroad by two and three times, respectively.

At Clinton’s behest, Thurman traveled to Africa in 1999, where she headed the first U.S. delegation to examine the AIDS epidemic.

Currently president and CEO of the International AIDS Trust, Thurman has implemented the first AIDS Leadership Programs for world leaders. These programs aim to teach developing policies that promote AIDS treatment and prevention initiatives.

The International AIDS Trust moved to Atlanta from Washington in 2006, relocating Thurman back to where she started in AIDS care in the 1980s.
Thurman received a bachelor’s degree from Mercer University. She also completed postgraduate studies and research in religion and health at St. Paul’s University in Limuru, Kenya.

Today’s visit to Chautauqua is Thurman’s first.