New York – AVAC today issued the following statement from AVAC Executive Director Mitchell Warren on the nomination of Dr. Deborah Birx as the new Ambassador and US Global Coordinator:
“We at AVAC are extremely excited that President Obama has nominated an innovative and visionary person to lead the U.S. government’s fight against HIV/AIDS. The program, now 10 years old, is at a critical juncture, and Dr. Deborah Birx is the ideal leader for the work that lies ahead.
“Dr. Birx’s sterling career in both HIV prevention research and service delivery has always been characterized by passionate commitment to ambitious, innovative responses to the epidemic. Dr. Birx focused her early career on AIDS vaccine research, ultimately serving as Director of the US Military HIV Research Program as it initiated the RV 144 vaccine trial that showed in 2009 through modest efficacy that an AIDS vaccine was possible. We know that she is committed to the promise of combination prevention including the need for new tools such as an AIDS vaccine. More recently, as director of the Global AIDS Program at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she has helped keep the focus on setting and attaining ambitious prevention and treatment goals in communities around the world hard hit by the HIV epidemic.
“As a member of AVAC’s board of directors, Dr. Birx has lent her experience and wisdom to our global advocacy work, and we know her as a keen advocate for a comprehensive response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We congratulate her on this nomination and look forward to continuing to work with her in the global fight to end AIDS.
“Dr. Birx will be assuming this role at a critical time for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Her leadership will be essential in achieving the goals laid out in the PEPFAR Blueprint for Creating an AIDS-Free Generation.
“PEPFAR recently met an ambitious target for scaling up voluntary medical male circumcision, and it is continuing to expand available treatment slots for people living with HIV. But there is difficult work ahead for Dr. Birx and her team—specifically, it is essential to ensure that planned transitions from direct US aid to country ownership of programs do not proceed at the expense of quality services. PEPFAR must demonstrate leadership in ensuring that people not only start AIDS treatment, but remain on it, reaping the full benefits of effective viral suppression.
“It is also critical that PEPFAR continue to engage with civil society as it drafts and implements its plans for country-level work. Dr. Birx, with her established commitment to working with civil society, will be a terrific ally for this work going forward. Finally, the PEPFAR program needs a strong advocate at home, and looks to Dr. Birx to ensure that PEPFAR remains fully funded and ambitious in its targets for the next five years and beyond.
“Dr. Birx follows in the footsteps of two previous leaders who helped to create and mold a truly transformational global health program that the U.S. can be proud of, and we thank Ambassadors Mark Dybul and Eric Goosby for their leadership—and look forward to this next chapter of one of the greatest stories in public health.”
About AVAC: Founded in 1995, AVAC is a non-profit organization that uses education, policy analysis, advocacy and a network of global collaborations to accelerate the ethical development and global delivery of AIDS vaccines, male circumcision, microbicides, PrEP and other emerging HIV prevention options as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic.