UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé has been awarded the Degree of Doctor of Public Health (Honoris Causa) from Tuskegee University in Alabama – one of the oldest and well known historically black colleges in the United States. The degree was awarded in recognition of Mr Sidibé’s leadership in the international AIDS response.
Mr Sidibé received the honour while attending the University’s Annual Scholarship Convocation on 13 October 2013 as the keynote speaker. In his remarks, Mr Sidibe spoke about the parallels between the American civil rights struggle for justice and equality and the AIDS response, which promotes human rights and dignity for communities affected by the epidemic. He highlighted that in the United States, African Americans account for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents, although representing only about 13% of the US population.
In awarding Mr Sidibe the doctorate, University President Gilbert L Rochon encouraged Mr Sidibe, through his leadership of UNAIDS and his new role as Tuskegee Alma Mater, to strengthen the university’s bridge with the United Nations and African countries to explore new breakthroughs in youth leadership, research and development, and public health.
Tuskegee University is a renowned historically black university. Established in 1881 by Booker T. Washington, Tuskegee’s campus has been designated as a National Historic Site. Tuskegee University’s National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care is the first bioethics center in the United States devoted to exploring research and medical treatment of the African American community and other underserved populations.