The world has lost one of its most dedicated leaders in the fight against HIV. The International AIDS Society (IAS) shares in the deep sadness felt by many at the loss of Dr. Willard (Ward) Cates. For over 40 years, Ward has been working in the field of women's health, reproductive rights, and HIV/AIDS and was a recognised force in linking these fields of work.
Ward was beloved as a committed and humble mentor to new generations of scientists and researchers. He was a true pioneer, an extraordinary visionary and a committed advocate for HIV and women’s health – notably around family planning, and we were fortunate enough to have him participate at many of the International AIDS Conferences over the years.
He was the President and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, a distinguished researcher at FHI 360, and was serving as the President Emeritus of Research at the time of his death. Over his career, Ward worked as principal investigator on many microbicide trials including the CAPRISA 004 trial of 1% tenofovir gel, a trial, which showed a 39% reduction in HIV acquisition among women using the gel. From 1997-2002, Ward was a scientific investigator for the HIV Prevention Trials Network and was a principal investigator for the Microbicide Trials Network. While his commitment and leadership on expanding science and research led to major advancements in the HIV response, he was equally passionate about ensuring that these had meaning in the lives of communities.
We want to recognise Dr. Cates for his innumerable contributions in the field of global health and for his friendship to so many of us. Our thoughts are with Joan and their family. We will miss him.