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Distinguished UConn Alumni Award presented to AIDS researcher Released: 5/9/96)

by David Pesci, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- Noted AIDS researcher Bill Darrow is this year's recipient of the University of Connecticut Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni award.

A native of Norwich, Conn., Darrow graduated from the University with honors in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in economics. Soon after, he took a position with the New York City Department of Health as a "health representative." The job required Darrow to work with physicians, corrections officials and young people at high risk for infection with syphilis, as well as to identify those who had been infected, and refer them to treatment. The goal was to eradicate syphilis as a public health problem in the United States.

Darrow was fascinated with the challenges of disease prevention. Within two years, his expertise led to a position as a public health advisor at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was then called the Communicable Disease Center. The job, which included helping other researchers better understand the behavioral and social factors associated with sexually transmitted diseases, led Darrow to a 30-year career with the CDC as a research sociologist. Along the way he earned master's and doctorate degrees in sociology, authored nearly 100 articles, participated in scores of national and international conferences, and served on prestigious editorial boards.

However, Darrow's most auspicious contributions came in investigations of the AIDS virus. He was a member of the pioneering team that identified the disease's occurrence and spread in the United States during the early 1980s. He also is widely credited with identifying clusters of infection involving "Patient 0," one of the first people to be diagnosed with the disease in North America.

Darrow's experiences investigating AIDS during this period were chronicled in numerous articles for newspapers and magazines, in the best- selling book And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, and in the Emmy award-winning movie based on Shilts' book.

Darrow, now a professor in the Department of Public Health at Florida International University, will be honored by the University's alumni association at a ceremony May 17 at Centennial Alumni House and recognized May 18 during undergraduate graduation ceremonies.

First presented in 1956, the Distinguished Alumni Award provides recognition for outstanding achievements of University alumni. The recipients are selected by an alumni association board of director committee.

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