Zee Media Bureau
Chennai: Dr Suniti Solomon, who was part of the team that detected the first strains of HIV in India in 1986, passed away at her residence here on Tuesday.
Dr Solomon was 76 years old and had been under treatment for two months for liver cancer, family sources said. She is survived by her son Dr Sunil Solomon.
While working as a microbiologist at Madras Medical College and Government General Hospital, Dr Suniti Solomon and her colleagues documented the first case of HIV infection in India in 1986 after blood samples of six commercial sex workers were found to be positive.
The samples were first sent to Christian Medical College in Vellore and later to a facility in the USA, where they tested HIV positive.
She then set up the first voluntary testing and counselling centre and an AIDS Research Group in Chennai,
Her pioneering HIV research studies includes the US National Institute of Mental Health's multi-country HIV/STD Prevention Trial.
An MD in Microbiology from Madras University, she was a household name in Tamil Nadu in the area of HIV prevention and care and among people living with HIV/AIDS.
Trained in pathology in the UK and USA, her experience covers a wide range of aspects linked to HIV infection, biomedical parameters to socio-economics.
She had actively participated in the last three decades on HIV programme to save lives.
She had also published papers extensively on HIV epidemiology, prevention, care, support and related gender issues.
In 2012, Dr Suniti Solomon was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for Service on HIV/AIDS by the state-run Dr MGR Medical University here.
She had served on several boards, including National Technical Team on Women and AIDS, Advisory Board of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative-India, the Scientific Committee of the National AIDS Research Institute Pune and the Microbicide Committee of Indian Council of Medical Research.