Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Research (CHEST) to commemorate 20th Anniversary with Major Conference

Contact: Jeffrey Parsons (CHEST):; or Rafael Muñoz (Roosevelt House):

Hunter College Center for HIV/AIDS Research (CHEST) to Commemorate 20th Anniversary with Major Conference Focusing on Urgent Needs for Future Study, Further Government Attention

chestlogo-copy(NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016)—The Hunter College LGBT Social Science and Public Policy Center is convening  a half-day symposium to mark the 20-year anniversary of CHESTCenter for HIV Educational Studies and Training. The symposium, HIV Research that Informs Policy: Past, Present, and Future, will be held at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Key figures in New York health policy and in the fight to end the spread of HIV will join us in reflection on 20 years of the Center’s work and to dialogue about the future of HIV research, policy and intervention strategies.

Co-sponsored by the LGBT Social Science and Public Policy Center at Roosevelt House, the symposium will bring together leading researchers in the field with HIV policy-makers at the city, state, and federal levels for dialogue on research-based past, present, and future public policy initiatives.  The conference, “HIV Research Informing Policy: Past, Present, and Future,” will focus on the research-policy-practice connections still vital to combatting HIV/AIDS and improving LGBT health.  The day’s final panel, devoted to future research needs, will explore the ways in which policy makers and behavioral researchers must continue to collaborate to address ongoing LGBT health concerns.

Although the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS is less visible today than when the first cases were reported in 1981, symposium organizers point out that the threat to LGBTQ individuals remains alarmingly high, if less frequently reported in the media.  New York State currently ranks fourth nationwide in the number of new HIV diagnoses, and New York City remains one of the top-ten cities for infection rates—with racial and ethnic minorities bearing a disproportionately high likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS.

Participants in the September 27 symposium will include Dr. Jeffrey Parsons, Director of CHEST and member of the Psychology faculty at Hunter; and such policy leaders as Dr. Michael Stiriatt of the National Institute of Mental Health; Johanne Moore, Director the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute; and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Director of HIV for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Among those scheduled to participate as well are: Dr. Ana Ventuneac, Director of HIV Behavioral Research at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; Dr. James Tesoriero, Director of the Division of Epidemiology Evaluation and Partner Services at the AIDS Institute; Kenyon Farrow, U.S. & Global Health Policy Director of the Manhattan-based Treatment Action Group; and many other scholars, scientists, and practitioners. (A full program and list of participants follow.)

The three-session, all-afternoon program will be moderated by award-winning writer and HIV/AIDS advocate Mark S. King, whose blog, My Fabulous Disease, has been cited for excellence by National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association.

Commented Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab: “We are immensely proud of the extraordinary work CHEST has conducted over the past two decades to advance serious scientific study designed to spur policies that combat HIV/AIDS and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV.  Dr. Jeff Parsons has brilliantly and passionately represented our commitment to this work and we salute him with great admiration on this anniversary milestone.  Along with CHEST, Hunter remains committed to the work yet to be done—advocating that research continue to be made available to policy makers at all levels of government to ensure that this health issue remains on our collective radar in the future.  It is especially inspiring that CHEST’s 20th anniversary conference takes place in the onetime home of Franklin Roosevelt, who helped create the first social safety net for our country, and Eleanor Roosevelt, whose pioneering advocacy for human rights extended inspiringly to the area of global health.”

CHEST Director Jeff Parsons said: “From the beginning, CHEST research has allowed health professionals to understand, and government policy makers to act, on intervention strategies covering a whole range of critical health issues, from HIV testing to treatment adherence.  The long battle to combat HIV/AIDS has been enormously successful, but as statistics show, the war is not over.  Further research remains vital to creating and implementing new policies, and to continue reducing infection rates.  Yet dialogues between researchers, policy makers, and community HIV and LGBT health workers remains rare.  We hope that our symposium not only presents important new research, but also renews the urgent need for future collaborations.  Our goal is to convey the need for more study and ever-nimbler policy changes, and to encourage vital dialogues on an ongoing basis.”

CHEST ( was founded in 1996, and has been engaged since in supporting and utilizing research to reduce the spread of HIV.

The September 27 CHEST symposium is open to students, practitioners, and observers.  To contact CHEST for credentials, email:; or Roosevelt House at

Symposium Schedule

1:00 PM CHEST History of Research Informing Policy


Dr. Jeffrey T. Parsons, Director, CHEST; Distinguished Professor, Hunter College

Dr. Christian Grov, Associate Professor, CUNY School of Public Health; CHEST Faculty Affiliate

Dr. David Bimbi, Professor, LaGuardia Community College; CHEST Faculty Affiliate

Dr. Ana Ventuneac, Assistant Professor, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai; CHEST Faculty Affiliate


Dr. James Tesoriero, Director, Division of Epidemiology, Evaluation and Partner Services, New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute


Mark S. King, Journalist, author of My Fabulous Disease

3:05 PM PRESENT – Using Research to Fill Gaps in Current PrEP Policy


Dr. Tyrel Starks, Assistant Professor, Hunter College; CHEST Faculty Affiliate

Dr. H. Jonathon Rendina, Assistant Professor, Hunter College; CHEST Faculty Affiliate

Dr. Anthony Urbina, Associate Professor of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital


Kenyon Farrow, U.S. & Global Health Policy Director, Treatment Action Group


Mark S. King

4:30 PM FUTURE – New Directions – What Research Do We Need to Advance Policy Related to HIV and LGBT Health?


Dr. Michael Stirratt, Scientific Program Officer, National Institutes of Mental Health

Johanne Morne, Director, New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


Dr. Barbara Warren, Director, LGBT Programs and Policies, Mount Sinai Health System

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Senior Advisor to the President of Hunter College


Mark S. King

6:00 PM          RECEPTION