President Barack Obama on Monday (March 24) announced a man who’s living with HIV as the new director of the Office of National AIDS Policy.
In his new post, Douglas Brooks, who’s gay, will lead the Obama administration’s work to reduce new HIV infections, improve the health of people living with HIV, and eliminate HIV health disparities nationally.
“Douglas’s policy expertise combined with his extensive experience working in the community makes him uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach,” Obama stated. “I look forward to having him lead our efforts from the White House.”
Brooks, a licensed clinical social worker, most recently served as senior vice president for community, health, and public policy at the Justice Resource Institute, a health and human service agency based in Boston.
In a statement Monday, the head San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the city’s largest HIV/AIDS-related nonprofit, praised Obama’s selection.
“Douglas is an inspiring leader who will capably guide our nation closer to the end of the HIV epidemic,” Neil Giuliano, the AIDS foundation’s CEO, stated. “He effectively uses his clinical social work expertise to tackle the many challenges facing all Americans at risk for or living with HIV/AIDS. Beyond his wealth of expertise and his proven track record of results, the fact that he is openly HIV positive sends an important signal to all people living with the disease that they have a voice at the highest level of government.”
Ernest Hopkins, director of legislative affairs at the AIDS foundation, also expressed support for Brooks.
“As new infections increasingly concentrate in the African-American community, and especially among black gay men, it is more important than ever that our young people see a future for themselves in the face of someone like Douglas so that they can harness their innate resilience to create healthy and successful lives,” said Hopkins.
The AIDS foundation worked with Brooks recently when he chaired the board of AIDS United and when he was on the executive committee of the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition.
Brooks has urban and rural programs and served as a consultant to U. S. and international governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, helping them serve people living with and at the greatest risk for HIV and AIDS, according to the White House.
Among other previous posts, in 2010, Brooks was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
The previous director of the Office of National AIDS Policy was Dr. Grant Colfax, the former director of San Francisco’s HIV Prevention Section. Obama appointed Colfax to the position in March 2012. He left in January 2014.
The Office of National AIDS Policy coordinates the ongoing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the HIV Care Continuum initiative. The agency also works with the National Security Council, the State Department’s Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and other bodies to address HIV and AIDS around the world.