On the one-year anniversary of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy last week, I joined Mr. Jeffrey Crowley, Director of the White House Office on National AIDS Policy (ONAP), Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, and several colleagues from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) at a Congressional briefing organized by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-9th). The Congresswoman and several of her colleagues marked the anniversary with praise for the Strategy but pressed us to persevere with the challenging work necessary to achieve the Strategy’s 2015 goals for reducing new HIV infections, increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV, and reducing HIV-related health disparities.
AIDS.gov caught up with Dr. Koh right after the briefing and he shares some reflections on it in this brief video:
Joining Mr. Crowley, Dr. Koh, and me were HHS colleagues Ms. Caya Lewis, Chief of Staff at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. After we presented a brief update on implementation progress, the Members of Congress posed some questions and shared observations. Among the issues they raised were:
- Reporting on the effectiveness of the implementation of the Strategy
- The importance of translating the lessons learned from the 12 Cities Project to communities across the country for the widest possible benefit.
- Concern regarding the rising number of HIV cases in the Southern states and among women of color
- Preparations for convening of the AIDS 2012 , the world’s largest HIV/AIDS conference which will be held in Washington, DC, in July of 2012
Congresswoman Lee remarked “Working closely with the White House and my colleagues in Congress to develop a comprehensive, domestic effort, I am pleased to see the strategy is becoming an effective vehicle to improve the national response to an epidemic that continues to devastate communities across the country. Though we still have a ways to go to ensure we reach all communities affected by the epidemic. I look forward to working with my colleagues toward achieving the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”