Dr. Eliot J. Pearlman, noted expert on HIV/AIDs has died in Kyiv at age 85

Eliot Pearlman, born in the US to a family with Ukrainian roots, was educated in the US and Switzerland as a pediatrician. However, after being drafted into the US Army at the time of the Korean War, Pearlman found that he liked the structure and discipline of the Army and decided to make it a career.

Since the Army had less need for his pediatric skills, he retrained as a Public Health Officer and spent his over 30 year military career in that field. Most of his career was spent in Europe and the Far East, where the military had bases supporting US national goals.

His career began to take a somewhat different direction after the Army became aware of the growing number of military personnel who had been infected with HIV which in those early days developed into AIDs and death. Recognizing the need to deal with the growing problem, the Army assigned Pearlman to spend some time in Thailand, which had become a hot spot for the disease. After two years in the jungles of Thailand, Pearlman returned to the US, where he pioneered the establishment of hospices where soldiers in the final stages of AIDs could die with proper dignity and care.

After retirement from the Army, Pearlman took a number of medical positions, first in Bratislava and then in Kyiv with USAID but he felt a need to get back into the field of HIV/AIDs. Therefore, in 2002, he established the International HIV/AIDs Institute, which began financed by funds from Pearlman’s own resources. Several years later, in recognition of the fact that AIDs does not kill but weakens the body’s defense against other diseases, the institute was renamed the International HIV/AIDS & TB Institute, since tuberculosis is the malady that kills most AIDs patients.

As one might expect, Pearlman worked very closely with the Ukrainian military and has closely coordinated the Institute’s work with the needs of the Ukrainian military. Foreign governments have seen a need for Pearlman’s expertise that led to travel in several parts of Europe and Africa. Pearlman’s reputation and that of the institute were responsible for funding under PEPFAR and the Global Fund.

Over the almost 20 years of the Institutes existence, it has gained an international reputation as a center of excellence. This has allowed the Institute, based primarily on Dr. Pearlman’s reputation for competence and public service, to expand so that its budget for the coming year is more than USD 1 mln. With Pearlman’s demise, the Institute’s work will continue under the leadership of persons who were trained by him.

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