A professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health has been honored by the World Health Organization for his work to prevent HIV/AIDS in China.
Dr. Zunyou Wu, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of epidemiology, received the Nelson Mandela Award for Health Promotion on May 27 during an event at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
“The 2022 public health prizes and awards celebrate people and institutions for successfully addressing a huge array of health challenges around the world,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general. “It is an honor for us to come together to acknowledge these true champions of health.”
Wu, a Chinese physician and a graduate of the Fielding School (PhD, ’95; MPH, ’92), was recognized for his achievements in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention, including creating outreach programs among sex workers and establishing both China’s first needle-exchange program and first large-scale opioid replacement treatment. The impact of these measures has been significant: today, drug users represent 1% of all HIV infections in China. In 2004, they represented half.
In his remarks at the event, Wu thanked Dr. Roger Detels, distinguished research professor of epidemiology and infectious diseases and dean emeritus at the Fielding School, for his role as a mentor.
“In 1991, I was shocked when I found that people who gave us (guest) lectures were men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and people living with HIV,” Wu said. “I want to thank my professor Roger Detels, who taught me non-judgmental and non-discriminatory attitude towards people at the risk of HIV infection.”
Wu received his medical degree from Anhui Medical University in China in 1985, and a master’s in epidemiology, also from Anhui, in 1988. Along with service as an adjunct professor at the Fielding School since 2009, he served as an epidemiologist or director of the Chinese National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, part of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1997 to 2017. Since then, he has served as the chief epidemiologist of the Chinese CDC, including during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Dr. Wu is an outstanding scientist and public health expert, as well as being a truly remarkable individual, dedicated to improving public health in China and around the world,” Detels said. “He is deeply deserving of this recognition, and is an exemplar of the benefits that public health, as a scientific discipline and as a positive influence on informed public policy decisions, can bring to our world. Having Dr. Wu and others like him as students, and then as colleagues, is the ultimate reward for being an educator.”