Thursday, January 10, 2008

New SF HIV Prevention Chief's 2008 Agenda
The "new" head of HIV prevention for the San Francisco health department, Dr. Grant Colfax, is making a formal presentation this afternoon before the HIV Prevention Planning Council's monthly meeting.
Colfax has officially been in charge of prevention since September, but he's been working at the DPH AIDS Office for 10 years, so I don't consider him all that new a player in prevention work. Nor do I think he really needs much time to get up to speed on the work of HIV prevention groups.
In any case, in his four-plus months as director of HIV prevention for the city he hasn't held a single public meeting, nor has he asked for input from the community about how he should do his job to meet the community's prevention needs. He briefly attended the HPPC meeting in November, but left after making a few vague remarks to attend an invitation-only meeting at the SF AIDS Foundation.
Many paid advocates I've spoken with say they like Colfax personally and think his professional duties -- meeting with executive directors of service organizations that receive city dollars, listening to the concerns of staffers at the nonprofits -- are an important part of his job and he's smart to take the pulse of the nonprofits.
I agree that Colfax needs to engage with the nonprofits and their social workers, but I think he's off to a so-so start in not holding any town-hall-style meetings with the gay community, especially at-risk gay men in the Castro, Polk and Tenderloin neighborhoods.
If Colfax and the DPH are serious about maintaining the declining HIV infection rate and keeping gay men healthy, it's going to require Colfax getting out of the ivory tower at 25 Van Ness Avenue where the AIDS Office is located, actively soliciting ideas from the community, and generally bringing much-needed transparency to the work of DPH's prevention section.
Will Colfax announce plans to revamp HIV prevention services, hold public meetings with gays who don't work for either DPH or the service organizations, or tell us about his agenda to improve social marketing campaigns?
We'll find out later today, when the HPPC meets at 3:00 PM at the Quaker Meeting House, located at 65 Ninth Street, near Mission.

From the HPPC agenda:

4. HPPC Co-Chairs/Director’s Update (Information item)

Objective: To inform HPPC members of the activities of the HPPC Co-Chairs, the Steering Committee, and the HIV Prevention Section. Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the HIV prevention Section will give an overview of his work and the work of the HIV Prevention Section. The Co-chairs will inform HPPC members of the 2008 vision for HIV prevention planning and how the Council will support it through committee and Council work.

No comments: