2015 James C. Hill Memorial Lecture

Covering the Disease of the Century: A Journalist’s Personal Perspective on AIDS, 1981–2015

Date & Time:

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm


Lipsett Amphitheater (inside Building 10/ Clinical Center on the NIH campus), Bethesda, Maryland


Lawrence K. Altman, M.D.


Physician and journalist Lawrence K. Altman, M.D., will deliver this year’s James C. Hill Memorial Lecture, “Covering the Disease of the Century: A Journalist’s Personal Perspective on AIDS, 1981–2015.” The lecture will be presented on Tuesday, March 17, at 3:00 p.m. in the Lipsett Amphitheater. Dr. Altman will discuss his decades of reporting on HIV/AIDS, beginning with the 1981 appearance of the first U.S. cases of illness caused by the then-unknown virus.

Dr. Altman is a medical writer for The New York Times, where from 1969 to 2008 he was one of the few physicians employed full time for a daily newspaper. He continues to report on a variety of medical topics for the Times. Dr. Altman also writes “The Doctor’s World,” a column that appears in the science section of the newspaper. He is a clinical professor of medicine at New York University and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, where he is writing a book on the health of political leaders. Dr. Altman authored “Who Goes First? The Story of Self-Experimentation in Medicine.” He also has written for scholarly publications on subjects such as viral encephalitis and canine cadaver blood. Dr. Altman holds medical licenses in California, New York, and Washington state.

Dr. Altman wrote the Times’ first article on HIV/AIDS, “Rare cancer seen in 41 homosexuals,” published on July 3, 1981. The article describes an outbreak of “…41 cases of a rare and often rapidly fatal form of cancer”—its cause unknown.  After years of writing numerous articles on HIV/AIDS, Dr. Altman penned, “30 Years In, We are Still Learning from AIDS” for the Times.  That article looks back on the earliest cases of AIDS, the medical community’s reaction and response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, its social implications, and the scientific, medical, and public health challenges that remain.

The annual Dr. James C. Hill Memorial Lecture is dedicated to the former NIAID deputy director. Dr. Hill helped build the institute’s HIV/AIDS research program during the early years of the epidemic and was instrumental in educating the public and government officials on the emerging threat of AIDS.

Content last reviewed on February 13, 2015