Asia Society Expresses Deep Concern Over Detention of Iranian HIV/AIDS Pioneers

NEW YORK, July 16, 2008 - Asia Society today expressed its deep concern regarding confirmed reports that two Iranian nationals who are part of Asia Society's Young Leaders Program have been detained in Iran by Iranian authorities.

Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei are leading Iranian experts on HIV/AIDS who have pioneered HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment activities in Iran. Both Alaei brothers have worked closely with Asia Society on HIV/AIDS awareness activities throughout the Asia-Pacific region for years, and both are participants in Asia Society's Asia 21 Young Leaders Program. Dr. Kamiar Alaei was selected by Asia Society among leaders from across the Asia-Pacific as a 2008-2009 Asia 21 Fellow.

"Asia Society is deeply concerned about the apparent detention by Iranian authorities of Drs. Arash and Kamiar Alaei, who are both leading figures in the HIV/AIDS community and Asia Society Young Leaders," said Asia Society Chairman Richard C. Holbrooke.

Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl, who has worked closely with the Alaei brothers, is actively pursuing this matter with appropriate officials and partner organizations.

Dr. Kamiar Alaei is a doctoral candidate at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health who is expected to resume his studies in Albany this fall. He holds a Masters degree in International Health from Harvard University. His brother Arash is the former Director of the International Education and Research Cooperation of the Iranian National Research Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease. Since 1998, Alaei and his brother, Kamiar, have been carrying out programs dealing with HIV/AIDS and the Harm Reduction of Drugs in the war-torn province of Kermanshah, on the West Coast of Iran. Since 1986, the Alaei brothers have worked on an ongoing project that seeks to integrate issues concerning the prevention and care of HIV/AIDS, STI, and Drug-Related Harm Reduction into the National Health Care system.

In addition to their work in Iran, the Alaei brothers hold training courses for Afghan and Tajik medical workers and have worked to encourage regional cooperation among 12 Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries. They have appeared widely in the international media, including the BBC, the Washington Post, Knight Ridder and other outlets.


Contact: Elaine Merguerian, 212-327-9271