Skip to Global Health Institute Full Site Menu Skip to main content
February 27, 2021

Dr. Eric Goosby Reflects on HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 Pandemic Era

By Kent Adams (SFS'21)

On February 23, Georgetown University’s Conversations in Global Health class met with Dr. Eric Goosby over Zoom. Dr. Goosby is a public health official and academic with over 35 years of experience in the field of HIV/AIDS, paired with recent experience managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout his talk, he highlighted the social justice foundations of the global health sector and how his politically-active family led him to serve in this area. His experience during the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States contrasts with the current pandemic in terms of timeline but offers crucial insight. What happened over at least a decade in the study of HIV’s pathophysiology and history occurred in months with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Reflecting on the Lancet Commission on tuberculosis, Dr. Goosby pointed to this year’s pandemic as an opportunity to reboot the discussion on the social determinants of health in the context of killer diseases. The conversation surrounding health and economic and social factors has happened over time in small bits and pieces, but this moment provides a real opportunity to change how health is conceived. Furthermore, Dr. Goosby hopes that the Biden/Harris administration will bring the social determinants into the larger goal of helping the country’s middle class. In his view, the UN’s goal to emphasize social and physical environments in health must come from a popular movement, demanding that politicians be held accountable.

Dr. Goosby also addressed the race for vaccines to prevent infection and transmission of the novel coronavirus. He stressed that no corners were cut, and confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine should be much higher than previous drug trials that typically utilized much smaller participant pools. Looking to the near future, the infectious disease expert reminded us that we have yet to see how the spread of the virus will progress in Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa identified a new variant of the virus which reached the United States in late January, highlighting the urgent need to address the pandemic in the region with planned vaccination. I for one have been wondering what the United States will do with potentially millions of extra vaccine doses the government purchased in advance, especially as many Americans are refusing to be inoculated. Dr. Goosby suggests that the United States and Europe responsibly donate extra vaccine doses around the world.

Kent Adams (SFS'21) is a fourth-year undergraduate at Georgetown University studying science, technology, and international affairs with a minor in Arabic and is a student in the Conversations in Global Health course.