For the second time in as many weeks, HIV/AIDS advocates are calling on President-elect Barack Obama to develop a comprehensive approach to domestic HIV/AIDS policy. The groups want increased federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and research “and a departure from some policies enacted under the Bush administration”—such the ban on federal funding for needle-exchange programs and mandates for abstinence-only sex education.
2008-11-26-MILAN HIV/AIDS advocates are also urging the new administration to resurrect the White House Office on National AIDS Policy and appoint a new “AIDS czar.” According to the Bay Area Reporter, one of the leading contenders is Jesse Milan Jr., chairman of the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute.
The openly gay Milan, 52, who has been HIV-positive for 26 years, is vice president of the Altarum Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on health research. He also chairs the CDC Business and Labor Responds to AIDS Partners Board.
From 2002 until last year, he co-chaired the CDC’s and the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Advisory Committee on HIV and STD Prevention and Treatments, through which he pushed to see adoption of a national AIDS strategy. Since last spring he has served on the national committee working on developing such a document.
Milan tells the Bay Area Reporter he would be happy to serve in an capacity in the Obama White House and is “hoping to be asked to do something to move the HIV/AIDS agenda forward.”
Milan certainly has the credentials to become the nation’s next AIDS czar. But his appointment would also crystallize the recent report by the Centers for Disease Controls which found black gay men are the demographic hardest hit by the epidemic. If anyone can tailor programs, policy and common sense to reach this hard-to-reach demographic, that would be Jesse Milan Jr.