Today, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius welcomed 24 new members to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). PACHA’s role is to work with the Secretary and provide information, advice, and recommendations on domestic and global HIV/AIDS policy issues to the President. PACHA also serves to further the policy goals of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) and will play an important role in providing input for the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Today’s meeting was PACHA’s first under the Obama administration. Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, introduced Secretary Sebelius. He restated HHS’ commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and emphasized the importance of working with PACHA to create a strong, coordinated response to the epidemic. Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, provided an overview of his office and the status of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
After PACHA members were sworn in, Helene Gayle, who will chair the Council, made opening remarks and Christopher Bates, PACHA’s Executive Director, facilitated a period of public comments. During that discussion, a diverse group of HIV/AIDS researchers, service providers, community leaders, people living with HIV, and PACHA members commented on a wide range of issues, including homophobia, aging, the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, HIV-prevention needs, sexual health, and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
In regard to the PACHA announcement, President Obama said: “We often speak about HIV/AIDS as if it’s only going on somewhere else—but we face a serious HIV/AIDS epidemic in America. That’s why, last year, my administration began crafting a new National HIV/AIDS Strategy. Today, I’m pleased to have a new group of experts joining PACHA, and I look forward to hearing from the Council about our continued efforts to prevent the spread of HIV infections in the United States and to provide care and treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS around the world.” Secretary Sebelius added: “These new members also represent the best of America. I look forward to their strategic guidance in assisting HHS to do its part in developing and implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and in supporting the important work of the PEPFAR program.”
For more information on PACHA, visit: http://www.aids.gov/federal-resources/policies/pacha