Despite the "political chasm" between Iran and the U.S., "some courageous doctors and scientists on both sides have been reaching out to collaborate on important projects," including HIV/AIDS treatment programs, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes in a Post opinion piece.
Arash Alaei -- who "supervises a nationwide prevention and treatment program for AIDS and drug addiction" -- has helped Iran establish a public health program that "looks more enlightened than what we have in America," Ignatius writes.
Alaei's successes include helping Iran to establish a nationwide needle-exchange program, distribute condoms at no cost at health clinics nationwide and establish methadone treatment centers in each province, according to Ignatius.
In addition, Alaei "established what he called a 'triangular' clinic," which "eased" HIV/AIDS stigma by treating sexually transmitted infections and drug addiction, according to Ignatius.
"Having pioneered effective AIDS treatment in Iran," Alaei sought to "share what he was doing" with the U.S. and invited 13 U.S. students of Iranian descent to work with him in Iran, Ignatius writes.
Alaei in 2007 plans to invite 50 U.S. students of various backgrounds to work with him, and this month he is traveling to the U.S. to discuss with Harvard University and Johns Hopkins University professors the possibility of establishing faculty exchanges and joint degree programs, according to Ignatius.
Such collaborations "give me hope that some day rational people on both sides will figure out ways to solve the larger problems that have obstructed U.S.-Iranian relations for 27 years," Ignatius writes (Ignatius, Washington Post, 9/6).