Recap: Public Health Symposium

Gabe Castrillon, Opinions Editor

Thursday, September 26, a Public Health Symposium was held, featuring Dr. Steven Pounders. Pounders, an alumnus of Austin College, is an HIV specialist based in Dallas who was a leader in the field during the HIV outbreak in the 1980s. In fact, he was so influential that he and his clinic were featured in the film Dallas Buyers Club, albeit under different names.

He discussed a variety of topics, beginning with his education and how he became involved with HIV research and treatment. He graduated from Austin College in 1981, stating that he valued the liberal arts education the college provided to him. He then attended the University of Texas at Galveston for medical school, where he worked as a primary care physician for the first time. After receiving his doctorate, he began working at the AIDS clinic at UT Southwestern and soon became the coordinator of the clinic. Soon, he opened up a private HIV clinic, where he helped treat those affected by HIV and AIDS. However, as more effective and affordable cures became available, he was forced to close the clinic down since it was no longer profitable.

He also answered several questions regarding his involvement with the production of the Dallas Buyers Club. He said that he did work with the screenwriters of the film, but the final result differed from reality in several ways. For example, Rayon, played by Jared Leto, was not a real person. He also noted that, unfortunately, he never got to meet Matthew McConaughey.

The event was so popular that there were more people in attendance than there were seats in the auditorium. This is likely due not only to Dr. Pounders’ influence in medicine, but also his involvement with and dedication to the LGBT+ community.