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October 16, 2019

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Dr. Catherine Wilfert to Receive North Carolina’s Highest Civilian Honor

imaget9b9r.pngIDSA member and recent recipient of the IDSA D.A. Henderson Award, Catherine M. Wilfert, MD, FIDSA, will soon receive the North Carolina Award, the state’s highest civilian honor. The award, which recognizes significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science will be presented by Governor Roy Cooper to six distinguished North Carolinians at an event next month. Dr. Wilfert will receive the award for Science.

Well over a million people around the world owe their lives to Dr. Wilfert’s pioneering work in the prevention and treatment of HIV. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Wilfert saw her first case of pediatric AIDS at Duke University. Recognizing the rapidly increasing number of infants and children who were infected with the virus, she established the university’s first pediatric infectious disease clinic.

The remainder of her career was spent researching and treating the deadly disease, leading the team that treated the first child with the drug AZT and helping to create the North Carolina Children’s AIDS Network to provide care and access to research studies. Her groundbreaking research in preventing maternal transmission of HIV led to a two-thirds reduction in the transmission of the disease from mother to child through pregnancy in the United States. Further work has dropped the transmission rate to less than one percent. After retiring from Duke, Dr. Wilfert was named scientific director of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation and took the research worldwide, leading international efforts to prevent mother to child transmission of HIV in the developing world.

“It is an honor to pay tribute to these outstanding individuals who have made North Carolina better by their extraordinary involvement in this state,” said Susi H. Hamilton, secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Each of them has enriched the lives of North Carolinians through their lasting achievements in the arts and public service.”

IDSA is a proud sponsor of this year’s awards and congratulates Dr. Wilfert on this well-deserved honor.

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