March 25th, 2016 – Women Organized to Respond to Life-threatening Diseases (WORLD) gives thanks and much appreciation to Douglas Brooks for leaving a strong legacy as he leaves his position as the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS policy (ONAP).
As a Black gay man living with HIV, Mr. Brooks was able to bring his lived experience, compassion, and expertise to inform his leadership and further the work to address HIV in the United States. That work exhibited a model of how government can be more open and responsive to communities disproportionately impacted by this devastating disease. Mr. Brooks modeled extraordinary sensitivity and conscientiousness during a national listing tour across the nation at the start of his tenure. Under his leadership, an updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) was incorporated which includes not only the scientific advances made that could bring us closer to eliminating new HIV infections but also acknowledges that HIV does not impact all those living in this country equally.
Mr. Brooks visited WORLD during his listening tour of the Bay Area and acknowledged that although we have come a long way in the fight against HIV and AIDS, women and girls remain disproportionately affected by HIV. Young women aged 13 to 24 accounted for an estimated 26% of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2010 yet there are few effective HIV prevention methods that are geared specifically to women. But even within the community of women, there are inequities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the total estimated number of women living with HIV in 2014, 62% were Black, 18% were White, and 16% were Hispanics/Latinas.
WORLD is glad to have had Mr. Brooks as an advocate on behalf of people living with HIV and looks forward to seeing his work continue to benefit communities nationally into the future.
We look forward to establishing a similar positive working relationship with Dr. Amy Lansky in her new role as acting director of ONAP.
We envision a world where women, girls, and families affected by HIV and AIDS have the tools, support and knowledge to live healthy and productive lives with dignity. Our vision is rooted in a commitment to human rights and wellness with the understanding that this includes freedom from violence; access to housing; quality healthcare; food security; physical, spiritual and emotional wellbeing; education and economic justice.
Written by Ivonne Quiroz & Cynthia Carey-Grant