HIV Specialist - June 2021 - 16

HIV IN THE BIDEN PRESIDENCY
HIV/AIDS has spawned protest and research,
sorrow and death, and occasionally joy and beauty
by illustrating both the best and worst in our society.
It has been impacted by racism and bigotry around sexual orientation
and gender identity and arguably furthered the struggle of
LGBTQ rights. ...That struggle now continues with new President,
Joe Biden, who with Vice President Kamala Harris,
campaigned in part on a promise to end the HIV epidemic
in the U.S. by 2025.
Since that time, the world and the U.S. has
struggled for four decades to end the epidemic.
HIV/AIDS has spawned protest and research,
sorrow and death, and occasionally joy and
beauty by illustrating both the best and worst
in our society. It has been impacted by racism
and bigotry around sexual orientation and
gender identity and arguably furthered the
struggle of LGBTQ rights. But in the U.S., it
has also shown the power and impact of protest,
furthering Congressional and eventually
administrative support for direct funding of
HIV prevention, treatment, housing and research
eventually leading to the introduction
of antiretrovirals (ARV) and, most recently,
pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). That
struggle now continues with new President,
Joe Biden, who with Vice President Kamala
Harris, campaigned in part on a promise to end
the HIV epidemic in the U.S. by 2025.
The Biden-Harris Administration passed
100 days in office in April, marking a traditional
milestone in U.S. politics by which we
can begin to understand their basic roadmap
on tackling issues on their agenda, including
ending the epidemic. While signs are hopeful
that they will intend to make good on their
campaign promise, it is a sobering thought
that the Administration comes to the task
of ending HIV amid a new global pandemic,
COVID-19. Unfortunately, some of the earliest
patterns of denial and misinformation
that first showed up in the early 1980s, with
16 JUNE 2021 HIVSPECIALIST WWW.AAHIVM.ORG
HIV/AIDS, reemerged during the 2020 election year, creating a deeper
divide between those who trust in science and those who deny it. This
has left the U.S. in a position of continually having to respond to false
and misleading reports that have threatened the ability of Congress
and the Administration to act. However, the Biden Administration has
managed to build a team that appears capable addressing both HIV
and COVID-19.
A WHO'S WHO IN HEALTHCARE
Notable new members of the President's senior health team include
the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier
Becerra, previously the Attorney General of California. For many, this
choice was regarded as a surprise since Mr. Becerra does not have
specialized experience on healthcare issues. However, as Attorney
General in California, he has been among the leaders defending the
Affordable Care Act (ACA) and has further experience on the Ways
and Means Committee and speaking out on behalf women's health
when he was in Congress. He is the first Latino to lead the department.
Dr. Rachel Levine has also been confirmed as the Assistant Secretary
of HHS. Her responsibilities will include many HIV treatment and
prevention activities. Dr. Levine is the first known transgender individual
to have gone through a Senate confirmation hearing and the first
transgender person to become an Assistant Secretary. She previously led
Pennsylvania's HHS through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other appointments include Dr. Rochelle Walensky, a well-known
and respected HIV/AIDS researcher with expertise in vaccine
delivery, as the Director of the CDC. Dr. Vivek Murthy was named
as Surgeon General, a role that he also fulfilled during the Obama
Administration. Dr. Anthony Fauci will maintain his current position
as Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases (NIAID) and has also been named Chief Medical Adviser on
COVID-19 to the President. President Biden also nominated Miriam
Delphin-Rittmon for the position of Assistant Secretary for Mental
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HIV Specialist - June 2021

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