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In Memory of Zena Stein


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Public health, human rights and HIV prevention champion, Zena Stein died this week, at the age of 99. Zena inspired and mentored nearly everyone working in public health in South Africa and in microbicide research, and has likely knowingly or not, influenced so many of us working in HIV prevention research and advocacy today.

Zena and her husband Mervyn Susser were pioneering anti-apartheid activists, epidemiologists and public health practitioners. They ended up in exile from apartheid and eventually landed at Columbia University where they both had long, distinguished careers. Amongst other things, Zena helped “launch” the field of HIV prevention options focused on women, including the female condom and microbicide research. Truly a visionary, here is what she wrote 31 years ago — when microbicides were called “virucides”:

image of abstract from article
Click to enlarge.

Her influence on AVAC was profound, and we celebrate the life of Zena and her dedication to bridging science, advocacy and human rights. For more on Zena and her remarkable life, read the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University tribute.

Her long, productive career and life touched so many people, organizations and careers, and we at AVAC will do all we can to honor her legacy in translating science into impact on people’s lives.