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Obama Nominates New Global AIDS Coordinator

Jodi Jacobson

President Obama nominates Dr. Eric Goosby, a long-time AIDS expert and medical doctor, for the post of Global AIDS Coordinator.

President Obama today announced he would nominate Dr. Eric Goosby as the new Ambassador at Large and Global AIDS Coordinator.  The Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC) resides within the Department of State and is responsible for overseeing all U.S. global AIDS policy and funding, including global AIDS work of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Department of Health and Human Services, among others.  If confirmed, Goosby will replace former Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul.

Goosby, a medical doctor, has been CEO and Chief Medical Officer of Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation since 2001. He is also Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.  He has played a key role in the development and/or implementation of HIV/AIDS national treatment scale-up plans in South Africa, Rwanda, China, and Ukraine. His expertise, according to the White House press release, is in:

[T]he development of
treatment guidelines for use of antiretroviral therapies, clinical
mentoring and training of health professionals, and the design and
implementation of local models of care for HIV/AIDS. He has worked
closely with international partners on the development of successful
HIV/AIDS treatment and treatment-based prevention strategies for
high-risk populations.

During the Clinton Administration, he also served as deputy director of the White House National
AIDS Policy Office and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy of the
Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Goosby’s nomination comes at a critical time for US global AIDS programs.  Congress reauthorized the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2008 (the original law authorized programs from 2003 through 2008).  But due to the current economic crisis, it is not yet clear whether Congress will fully fund PEPFAR programs this year. 

Moreover, numerous restrictions within U.S. global AIDS law continue to undermine efforts to prevent the spread of HIV infections through sexual transmission in the general population and among sex workers.  The new Global AIDS Coordinator will need to work quickly to strengthen efforts to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV, reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV infection, meet the needs of adolescents for comprehensive sexual health education and services, lift the prohibition on purchasing contraceptives under PEPFAR and strengthen integration with reproductive health programs, and stop the spread of HIV among users of intravenous drugs and among men who have sex with men. 

Hopefully, Goosby understands these challenges and is prepared to take them on.