On April 9, 2019, Dr. Virginia A. Caine, M.D., received the 2019 Gerald L. Bepko IUPUI Community Medallion in honor of her 30-plus years of exemplary application of research to critical public health problems. Over the years, Dr. Caine has built a national reputation for creating innovative programs to promote and advance positive public health outcomes.
An infectious disease expert, Dr. Caine currently serves as Director of the Marion County Public Health Department and in that role has been instrumental in addressing critical public health issues in Indianapolis and around the country. In 2018, Dr. Caine launched a Safe Syringe Access & Support Program to help reduce the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV. She declared a public health emergency as a first step to establishing a syringe exchange program under state law. With unanimous support from the Indianapolis City-County Council, Marion County's first syringe exchange program was created. On April 10, 2019, the health department joined community leaders and partners for the unveiling of a mobile unit that will be used to help operate the program.
Dr. Caine also created the first nationwide AIDS physician education program for the National Medical Association, a program later duplicated by the American Medical Association. Locally, she established the first countywide HIV/AIDS integrated health care delivery system involving major hospitals, community health centers, and social service agencies, as well as the first HIV dental clinic. As co-director of the Indianapolis Healthy Babies Initiative, Dr. Caine worked with community leaders to reduce the African-American infant mortality rate to its lowest level ever in the history of the city.