Demetre Daskalakis
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis
Photo: Danielle Levitt for OUT Magazine

Demetre Daskalakis, MD, a self-described “gay health warrior” who’s known to take to sex clubs and bathhouses to help fight HIV/AIDS, is now pitched to become New York City’s next chief of HIV prevention. The New York Times reports that in September, Daskalakis will take on the role of assistant health commissioner of NYC’s Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control.

Daskalakis has had a lot of experience battling the virus throughout his career as a doctor: He first got involved with AIDS work as a pre-med student at Columbia University; he then worked at Bellevue Hospital’s HIV ward as a medical student at NYU and later got a residency at Harvard, where he also did HIV/AIDS work. Currently, Daskalakis is the medical director of ambulatory HIV services at Mount Sinai Hospital.

He is also on the board of GMHC and is a member of the antiviral advisory committee for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2006, he founded the Men’s Sexual Health Project, which went into sex clubs and bathhouses across the city to test men for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and refer them to care. And in the midst of NYC’s meningitis scare last year, Daskalakis started a vaccination campaign for at-risk gay men.

The latest HIV/AIDS stats in NYC (from 2012) show that new infections overall are on the decline. AIDS-related deaths have fallen off the top 10 causes of fatality in NYC for the first time since the early ’80s. New HIV infections have also dropped by more than 33 percent since 2003.

Daskalakis says he wants to continue this trend by using more social media to help reach young men who have sex with men (MSM), especially among minorities. He wants to make Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) more available, and he hopes to stray away from AIDS scare tactic campaigns of the past.

To read the full Times write-up about Daskalakis and his work, click here.