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To Improve Human Health: A History of the Institute of Medicine
embrace nearly all of the IOM's divisions. In 1989, Robin Weiss and her special AIDS activities branch of the IOM supervised the evaluation of the National Institutes of Health research program, planned a conference to examine the issues surrounding prenatal and newborn screening for HIV infection, and staffed both the AIDS Activities Oversight Committee and the Roundtable for the Development of Drugs and Vaccines Against AIDS. At the same time, the Medical Follow-Up Agency was planning to locate and study a group of HIV-positive servicemen who had been lost to follow-up after discharge. The Division of International Health hoped to establish an International Forum for AIDS Research, and the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention had formed a subcommittee to advise the American National Red Cross on AIDS program materials.56
If the job of the AIDS Oversight Committee was to stimulate activity, then the committee could count its work a success. In June 1991, the IOM disbanded its special unit on AIDS activities and moved its remaining projects to the Division of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, noting that the move "did not indicate a diminished interest in AIDS-related projects at the IOM, which will be pursued as vigorously as in the past." By this time, thanks to the work of the AIDS Oversight Committee and its predecessor, an interest in AIDS was woven into the basic fabric of the IOM.57
Continuing Interest in AIDS
Two projects in particular demonstrated the continuing interest of the IOM in AIDS. One involved a large-scale study of the transmission of HIV through the blood supply in the early 1980s, and the other surveyed the AIDS research programs of what was known before 1992 as the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. Both studies stemmed from congressional mandates and reflected the traditional IOM mission to provide oversight and guidance to federal agencies. The fact that Congress asked the IOM to do these studies illustrated its confidence in the Institute's impartial judgment and its respect for the IOM's expertise on AIDS.
The project on HIV and the blood supply resulted from one of the many tragedies of the AIDS epidemic. In the early 1980s, as a result of using blood-based products, half of the 16,000 hemophiliacs in the United States contracted the AIDS virus. Before the development of an effective blood test for HIV, the introduction of HIV screening kits, and the routine use of antiviral heat treatment for blood products in