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August 29, 2018

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The IDSA Foundation Honors Leading Women

Through its first annual Women of ID campaign, the IDSA Foundation honored four phenomenal women who have made a profound impact on our everyday lives by transforming the field of infectious diseases. These mothers, daughters, sisters and wives are extraordinary women with remarkable stories that must be told. 

Meet our 2018 honorees: 
Catherine M. Wilfert, MD, FIDSA

Catherine M. Wilfert, MD, FIDSA earned her undergraduate degree with distinction from Stanford University in 1958. “I remember one of my professors telling me not to bother applying to Harvard Medical School, so I thought, I’ll show him,” she said. She went on to graduate summa cum laude in 1962, one of just five female medical students to finish. A humble, yet powerfully enchanting mother of eight and grandmother of 17, she doesn’t intimidate easily. In the face of obstacles, she has proven herself to be fearless. Her extraordinary research led to the reduction of mother-to-baby transmission of HIV by 75 percent in the United States. Later in her career, she traveled to Africa and Asia more than 60 times in just 10 years to teach other healthcare professionals how to prevent mother-to-baby HIV transmissions. 

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, FIDSA

Wafaa El-Sadr, MD, MPH, MPA, FIDSA knew at an early age that she wanted to impact lives. It was her stubborn optimism and nurturing spirit that gave way to an untraditional approach to not only treating the whole patient, but their families as well. Her holistic approach to HIV patient care has resulted in caring for over 2.4 million people in more than 30 countries around the world.

Carol Baker, MD, FIDSA, FPIDS, FSHEA

Carol Baker, MD, FIDSA, FPIDS, FSHEA began her medical studies as one of the only two women in her class. Even then, her male counterparts couldn’t help but notice her drive and determination. She’s spent over 40 years fighting for causes that impacted pregnant women and infants. That same tenacity propelled her to fight to make group B streptococcus screening routine for pregnant women and for positive mothers-to-be to receive antibiotics during labor. Her efforts reduced the incidence of viral transmission from mothers to their babies in the first week of life by 80 percent.  “I will walk into the fire if it’s worth it. AND fighting for children and pregnant women is always worth it!” she said.  

Judith Aberg, MD, FIDSA, FACP

Judith Aberg, MD, FIDSA, FACP was a teen mom who worked cleaning construction sites and mowing grass to make ends meet.  Her naysayers encouraged her to play tennis like other wives instead of pursuing a career in medicine. Her unrelenting drive and passion for medicine would ultimately put her at the center of efforts to solve a global HIV medical crisis.  Her passion to improve health outcomes for those with HIV led to her develop national, state, and local guidelines for HIV prevention and care. 

The IDSA Foundation is proud to have shared the intimate stories of these phenomenal Women of ID. The overwhelming support that they received through well wishes and donations in their honor, further prove that their herculean works have not gone unnoticed. Click here to learn more about the Women of ID and how YOU can pay it forward. You may have heard their names, but now you’ll know their stories!

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