Sunday, February 07, 2010

PACHA's Dr. Gayle on PWA Members;
Where's Obama's AIDS Strategy?

Dr. Helene Gayle, the head of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), responded to my concerns regarding a news release about new council members, and the omission of identifying persons with AIDS (PWAs) serving on it. From Dr. Gayle:

Thanks for that. There are several members who are PWA. We can figure out how to make that more evident. [...] BTW, about a third of the members are PWAs. In one of the releases, I believe that was noted.

I've seen only this release from Health & Human Services, which does mention that persons living with HIV are PACHA members, and this is stated in the opening paragraph, but none of the PWA members of PACHA are identified as such in their short bios.

In my reply to Dr. Gayle I explained that there would be much more buy-in for the council's work and decisions from PWAs, a crucial constituency, if it were clearly spelled out by HHS who is a person living with HIV on PACHA. I'm hopeful that she and HHS will soon make moves to address this oversight.

Also in response to my post yesterday, I was reminded by friends that President Obama's director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, Jeff Crowley, according to a story in the Bay Area Reporter, made a public promise in August about when he would produce a plan:

[H]e has begun work on developing a national HIV/AIDS strategy, due by the end of the year.

It's now well into the new year and Crowley has not delivered that strategy. In a November interview for the Black AIDS Institute's newsletter, Crowley revised when his report would see the light of gay:

A report summarizing major themes across the community discussions, both at the official and unofficial town-hall meetings, and the online Call to Action will be released on the Office of National AIDS Policy website in early 2010.

Here we are with February quickly passing, and still no strategy from Crowley and the White House, and no word on when that strategy is coming out. How much longer must we wait for the Obama administration's blueprint for dealing with AIDS in America?

If a Democratic administration is not ready to put forward a workable national plan for AIDS, after 13 months in office, something is amiss.

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