Fenway Health, The Fenway Institute, and the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts commend outgoing White House Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy Douglas M. Brooks, MSW on his two years of exemplary leadership of United States HIV/AIDS policy. In this role, he served as the President’s lead advisor on domestic HIV/AIDS and was responsible for overseeing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), creating an update of NHAS through 2020, and guiding the Administration’s HIV/AIDS policies across Federal agencies.
Brooks’ accomplishments included increasing the focus on addressing the unique needs of gay and bisexual men (noting the disparities for those who are Black and Latino), Black women, transgender women, and people living in the U.S. South; helping to reform the ban on federal funds for evidence-based syringe access programs; and beginning to break down the stigma and barriers associated with PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in order to best deliver it to the people who need it most. He also worked to advance employment opportunities for people living with HIV and to engage federal and community partners who were missing from this work. Brooks organized many community meetings at the White House, focused on HIV in the Southern United States, HIV among gay and bisexual men, HIV among transgender women, and HIV stigma. More HIV advocates, researchers, and people living with HIV participated in these White House meetings than ever before.
“Douglas Brooks set an example for all federal appointees in the meaningful, substantive ways that he involved community members in the development of HIV policy,” said Stephen L. Boswell, MD, FACP, President & CEO of Fenway Health. “We are grateful for his leadership in promoting pre-exposure prophylaxis, syringe exchange, and other promising prevention approaches, and in prioritizing those most affected by HIV, including gay and bisexual men, transgender women, and African Americans who are gay and transgender.”
Brooks, who received the Congressman Gerry. E. Studds Award at Fenway Health’s Men’s Event on March 19, began his career in HIV/AIDS advocacy in 1992 with his work for the Provincetown AIDS Support Group. He went on to become the Senior Vice President for Community, Health, and Public Policy at the Justice Resource Institute (JRI), a regional health and human service agency with a range of residential and community-based services in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. He also previously served as Executive Director of the Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center, a youth-focused health center which is now part of Fenway Health.
Brooks will be succeeded in the role of White House Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy by Dr. Amy Lansky, a long-time CDC researcher and policy maker who currently serves as Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Office of National AIDS Policy in the White House. Dr. Lansky co-authored the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy. She will lead ONAP through the end of the current Administration. Over the past decade the U.S. has experienced a welcome decline in new HIV diagnoses by 19%, and seen even sharper declines among Black women, heterosexuals, and people who inject drugs.
“We look forward to working with Dr. Lansky to continue to proactively address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States,” said Carl Sciortino, Executive Director of AIDS Action Committee. “While Douglas Brooks leaves large shoes to fill, Dr. Lansky has a depth and breadth of knowledge about HIV and the structural drivers of vulnerability, including substance use and behavioral health issues. We know she will continue to lead President Obama’s unprecedented and successful response to the HIV epidemic in the U.S.”
[From a News Release]