WASHINGTON, November 29 /PRNewswire/ --

Today, the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) announced the appointment of Alex Coutinho, M.D., a world-renowned leader in HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, as the new Executive Director of the IDI.

Prior to joining IDI, Dr. Coutinho spent six years leading The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) Uganda, the largest HIV/AIDS care and treatment organization in Africa. His impressive accomplishments at TASO include increasing the organization's annual funding from US$3 million to US$22 million and expanding care for HIV-positive clients from 20,000 to 80,000. Dr.Coutinho was recently featured in Vanity Fair's Africa Issue, where he was recognized for his remarkable work in the field of HIV/AIDS.

IDI was the inaugural project of the Academic Alliance Foundation (AAF), a non-profit organization whose mission is to overcome the burden of infectious disease in Africa by building healthcare capacity and by strengthening academic medical institutions. "We are thrilled to have Dr. Coutinho assume leadership of the IDI," said Hank McKinnell, Chairman of the Board of the AAF. "His experience and expertise will bring tremendous value to the organization and to millions of people, families, and children in sub-Sahara Africa. Alex is the right man for these difficult times."

Dr. Coutinho will lead the day-to-day activities at IDI, including overseeing the organization's programs, which are aimed at building capacity in Africa to care for AIDS patients and to prevent the further spread of HIV. The program areas include: prevention, care and treatment, training, research, and laboratory services.

"I am honored to join IDI and to continue to build upon the past success," said Dr. Alex Coutinho. "I believe firmly in the mission of IDI - to build capacity in Africa for the delivery of sustainable, high quality care and prevention of HIV/AIDS and related infectious diseases through training and research. As someone who has lost family members to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I am well aware of the devastating effect this disease has had, and continues to have, on the people of Africa and around the world. I am excited to help shape and drive the important programs IDI has established."

Dr. Coutinho has been involved in the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS since 1982 when the first cases began to appear in Uganda. Early in his career he assisted in managing the initial AIDS cases at Nsambya Hospital in Kampala, and spent two years volunteering as part of a UNICEF/MOH initiative coordinating an intensive HIV education campaign for schools in Kampala and Masaka, Uganda. From 1989-2001, Dr. Coutinho worked in Swaziland pioneering HIV education and prevention programs at local and national levels.

Dr. Coutinho has been a member of the interim board of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, representing TASO in the process of setting up the fund in 2001. He was also the vice-chair of the Global Fund Technical Review from 2002-2004 and has served as the Vice Chairperson of the International Board for the International Partnership for Microbicides (IPM) since 2005.

About the Infectious Diseases Institute

The inaugural program of the Academic Alliance Foundation, the Infectious Diseases Institute of Makerere University (IDI), is a regional centre of excellence for HIV/AIDS treatment, training and research in sub-Saharan Africa. At IDI doctors and other health workers from all over sub-Saharan Africa receive advanced training in HIV/AIDS care and antiretroviral therapy (ART); people living with HIV receive free clinical care including ART; and scientists conduct research to develop models for HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment on the African continent. The IDI was established by the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa, a grouping of infectious disease experts from Uganda and North America, supported by Pfizer Inc and other partners. Since July 2005, the IDI has operated as an independent institute of Makerere University. For more information visit the IDI website: http://www.idi.ac.ug.

About the Academic Alliance Foundation

The Academic Alliance Foundation is a U.S. not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to overcome the burden of infectious diseases in sub-Saharan Africa by building healthcare capacity and strengthening academic medical institutions. AAF was born out of a unique partnership between senior North American academic physician-researchers in the field of infectious disease, their counterparts on the Faculty of Medicine at Uganda's famed Makerere University, and others motivated to find innovative solutions to combat infectious disease in sub-Saharan Africa and strengthen Africa for future generations. For more information visit the AAF website: http://www.academicalliancefoundation.org.

Web site: http://www.academicalliancefoundation.org http://www.idi.ac.ug

Alissa Patrick Oram of Academic Alliance Foundation, +1-703-294-6551, apatrick@academicalliancefoundation.org; or Kathryn Frazier of Edelman, +1-202-336-7978, kathryn.frazier@edelman.com, for Academic Alliance Foundation