When We Know Better
Department of Health, Behavior and Society
David Holtgrave has a favorite quote from poet Maya Angelou: “When we know better, we do better.” For Holtgrave, chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, the quote succinctly defines his research and his department’s mission. Case in point: His recent research uncovered a decline in the HIV transmission rate in the U.S.
Relying on the latest HIV incidence statistics from CDC researchers, Holtgrave showed that for every 100 people living with HIV, five or fewer will transmit the virus to an uninfected person in a given year. That’s an 88 percent drop in the rate of transmission since 1984—an encouraging indication of trends in the HIV epidemic. But Holtgrave cautions that the fight against HIV is far from over. In fact, certain populations such as gay men and African Americans are suffering a disproportionate toll from the HIV epidemic.
To continue to make inroads against HIV, such insights are essential to “doing better.” HIV is not the only priority for the Department of Health, Behavior and Society, which was founded in July 2005. More than 50 full- and part-time faculty are dedicated to discovering new interventions that will address tobacco, obesity, diabetes, injury, violence, cancer, sexually transmitted infections, substance use and other issues vital to public health.