Friday, May 16, 2014

Obama's AIDS Czar to Hold 'Listening Sessions': Time-Wasters

For the life of me, I can't think of any serious accomplishments from this office taking up space at the White House. I've kvetched about their lame blog rarely having something new or substantive to report.

There was a time when Dr. Grant Colfax from the San Francisco Department of Public Health's AIDS Office was the Obama AIDS Czar, and he's now gone and other than issue reassurances about the rollout for the Affordable Care Act and concerns of people living with HIV. Can't recall any lasting impact he had on federal policy, can you?

(Photo credit: The White House.)

In March, Obama replaced him with Douglas M. Brooks, pictured left, an openly-identified person with AIDS from Boston with a history of service on federal HIV advisory panels and his appointment generated a handful of stories in Massachusetts and statements from health advocates. In other words, a big yawn.

In keeping with Washington's long tradition of making announcements on a Friday that you want to escape widespread attention, the Obama administration today shared word that Brooks will hold "listening sessions" and I call bullshit on this, labeling the sessions nothing but time-wasters and useless spin. Expect local HIV nonprofits to put on dog-and-pony shows when Brooks comes to town.

Speaking of spin, soon after Brooks took over the White House rounded up gushing quotes from AIDS Inc groups that receive federal funds and are not known for criticizing the hand that feeds their salaries and keeps them in business.

If ONAP no longer existed, would it have an impact on the lives and healthcare access of people with AIDS or would folks notice?

From the Obama administration:

The White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) announced that it will host a series of regional listening sessions this summer on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). 

Mr. Douglas Brooks, ONAP’s newly appointed Director, will lead the listening sessions, which will be part of a visit to each community that will include site visits to organizations engaged in the community’s efforts to improve outcomes along the HIV Care Continuum. 

The purpose of the listening sessions is to better understand local and state level efforts related to the implementation of the NHAS, including discussion about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is helping advance the Strategy. [...]

The first of these listening sessions will be held in Jackson, Mississippi on Thursday, May 29, 2014 from 2:30 PM-4:30 PM at the University of Mississippi Medical Center Conference Center.

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