When our founder, Dr. Suniti Solomon, passed away on 28 July 2015, India and the world had lost a far-thinking pioneer, a compassionate doctor, an exemplary and humane person, and a mentor who led by example. Tributes flowed from all over the world. Michael Specter, a leading American journalist currently with The New Yorker who has followed the global AIDS epidemic for decades, wrote how, at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, no country possessed a more menacing mix of conditions, predilections, and the kind of poverty likely to hasten an AIDS epidemic than India… “But it never happened – in part because India had Suniti Solomon.”
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/postscript-suniti-solomon-aids-researcher Another tribute, from Margaret McCluskey of USAIDS who had worked with Dr. Solomon for several years, was re-posted by United States Department of State on their website.
Suniti Solomon was born Suniti Gaitonde, the only daughter of Yeshwant R. Gaitonde (after whom her institution, YRGCARE is named, YRG standing for the initials of her father’s name). Dr. Solomon’s sometimes recollected lining up with her brothers in the front yard of their home in Chennai periodically to receive shots for typhoid or small pox, and she resolved to become a doctor and likewise care for other people. How she started in general [internal] medicine but then switched to medical microbiology can be found here.
While on the faculty of the Institute of Microbiology Dr. Solomon and her team documented the first case (actually, the first six cases) of HIV infection in India. She had been reading about HIV/AIDS in various international medical journals and was convinced that the HIV infection was present in India, and could be found, if only one looked for it. She and a post-graduate student then embarked on a research project to do precisely this.
Dr. Suniti Solomon awarded the Padma Shri
On Republic Day 2017, the Government of India posthumously conferred the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award on our founder, Dr Suniti Solomon, in recognition of her pioneering work in the field of HIV disease and her yeoman service to HIV-positive people, their families, their communities, and the country.