Infectious diseases have historically played a major role in the history of the world. The Black Plague, caused by Yersenia pestis, killed nearly 25 million persons in Europe in the 14th century. The organism still causes sporadic disease in many parts of the world, including the southwestern United States. The White Plague, also known as tuberculosis, infects one-third of the inhabitants of the world today. The modern-day plague, HIV/AIDS, has infected more than one million Americans and nearly 35 million people worldwide.
The Division of Infectious Diseases at The Brody School of Medicine is dedicated to the treatment of persons infected with HIV in Eastern North Carolina. Our physicians and physician extenders currently provide care for more than 1,000 patients in our clinic in Greenville as well as for another 300 patients in clinics in surrounding counties. Faculty members are currently collecting data to address the issue of the disproportionate infection rate of HIV in African-Americans. The division is involved in many clinical trials involving HIV therapies. These trials provide needed drugs to persons who may otherwise not be able to receive treatment.
The Infectious Diseases Division works closely with Vidant Medical Center in both infection control and antibiotic management to reduce infections in the hospital setting. Researchers in the division are working on infection control screening methods to reduce the incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in the hospital. The antibiotic management program of the hospital has been instrumental in reducing unnecessary antibiotics; the reduction in antibiotic use has lead to a decrease in the incidence of Clostridium difficile infections in our hospital.
Education is an integral component of our division. The division is involved with the education of medical students at The Brody School of Medicine as well as with residents at Vidant Medical Center. Faculty members and staff within the division are providing education regarding HIV infection to high-risk groups in the community. Finally, the division has had an infectious diseases fellowship program since 2002. We feel that the training of future infectious diseases clinicians is critical in our fight against the many plagues that threaten our population today and in the years to come.
Paul Cook, MD
Professor of Medicine