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University at Albany Honors AIDS Visionaries, Drs. Kamiar and Arash Alaei

World AIDS Day Event Dedicated to the International Support of Physicians

Renowned HIV doctors praised for their work by the World Health Organization Kamiar and Arash Alaei will be honored by UAlbany School of Public Health in recognition of World AIDS Day. (Photo by Amy Hart.)

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 28, 2011) -- On Thursday, December 1, UAlbany's School of Public Health will host a symposium, "Human Rights and HIV" and honor UAlbany doctoral candidate, Dr. Kamiar Alaei and his brother, Arash. The Iranian brothers were AIDS doctors praised for their work by the World Health Organization when they were imprisoned in Iran in 2008 for attempting to bring lifesaving treatments to that country's AIDS patients.

As part of the 2011 World AIDS Day event dedicated to the international support of physicians who challenge governments which thwart the rights of patients, the Alaei brothers' will share their amazing journey educating and treating Iranians with HIV and AIDS. In 2008, the brothers were sentenced to imprisonment in the Evin prison, in the foothills of the Alborz Mountains outside Tehran.

In the fall of 2010, after two and a half years imprisonment, Kamiar, 37, was released and returned to Albany. For another 18 months, UAlbany administrators, graduate students, faculty and staff joined an international campaign including vigils and protests, to release Arash, 42. Finally freed in August of this year, Arash was not allowed to return to the U.S. until October.

Part of the support to free the Alaei brothers came from fellow doctors through Physicians for Human Rights. Its deputy director, Susanna Sirkin, will be the keynote speaker at the "Human Rights and HIV" symposium, and be followed by a panel of human rights activists who will discuss promoting human rights through public health.

"The people here at UAlbany supported us for so long and have made us feel welcome," said Arash. "It gave us energy when we heard from so many people at UAlbany. It was important to know we weren't forgotten in prison."

The brothers now want to resume their work with AIDS patients and hope to establish an interdisciplinary center for health and human rights. They agreed to an Iranian government stipulation that they will never again practice AIDS medicine in their homeland, but are considering missions to South America and Afghanistan.

The "Human Rights and HIV" symposium will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of University at Albany's School of Public Health, One University Place, Rensselaer.

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