May 5, 2022
AVAC applauds the US Senate in officially confirming Dr. John Nkengasong as the new US Global AIDS Coordinator leading the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest funder of HIV/AIDS programming in the world. President Biden nominated and the Senate voted to confirm Nkengasong.
“This confirmation is long overdue. COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the HIV pandemic,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC. “We are very hopeful that with John’s leadership, vision and experience, we can maintain the urgency and impact in ending the AIDS pandemic, continue responding to COVID, and build the sustainable health infrastructure that we so desperately need.”
With consistent bipartisan support and a dynamic, data-driven approach, PEPFAR has transformed foreign aid programs, strengthened global health security, and saved more than 20 million lives since it was created by President George W. Bush in 2003. Its impact is so great, and leadership so important to US efforts to advance global health and security, that its program director holds the title of ambassador—unique among US global health employees, and its activities are coordinated by the US Department of State.
“It’s a real win for the global AIDS response that the US government chose someone to lead PEPFAR who is from the region where much of its work actually is. It shows a commitment to truly listening to and learning from the people PEPFAR is meant to serve,” said Warren.
Nkengasong is the first person of African origin nominated and confirmed for this position. He directs the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the African Union and before that, served as the chief of the international laboratory branch in HIV/AIDS and TB at the US CDC, and as acting deputy director at its Center for Global Health.
“John is exceptionally well qualified to confront the enormous challenges ahead, including increasing PEPFAR’s impact in the face of COVID-19 and building a foundation for pandemic preparedness and global health equity,” Warren added. “He is a highly accomplished scientist and administrator, known and respected in both the global North and South, with a strong commitment to global health equity. AVAC fully supports John’s leadership in this critical post and looks forward to working with him toward our shared goals of ending the AIDS epidemic and ensuring global health equity.”