After enduring nonstop efforts by Republican leaders to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, allow discrimination in health care and ignore basic science, many Americans—especially those living with chronic illnesses—are relieved to have a new Democratic administration at the helm. Here’s a look at key health officials working with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
Serving as California’s attorney general when nominated, Becerra has “a long track record of fighting for the Affordable Care Act and for health equity,” notes AIDS United, “but some Senate Republicans are concerned [about his] lack of public health policy expertise.”
Anthony Fauci, MD
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Chief Medical Adviser on COVID-19 to the President
This physician-scientist has led the NIAID and advised presidents since 1984, including during the early HIV epidemic, when he butted heads with AIDS activists before collaborating with them.
Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development
Why include Representative Fudge (D–Ohio) in this roundup? As HIV and homelessness advocacy group Housing Works is fond of claiming, “Housing is health care!” Plus, in her HUD role, she’ll oversee the Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS program.
Vivek Murthy, MD, MBA
Murthy returns as “America’s Doctor,” a post he held from 2014 to 2017 under the Obama administration, when he helped the nation tackle the Ebola and Zika viruses and the opioid crisis. He also cofounded the global HIV education group VISIONS and was an attending physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School.
Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS
COVID-19 Equity Task Force Chair
An associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, she’s a leading expert on inequities, discrimination and racial disparities in health care—as such, she’ll offer vital insight, because COVID-19, like HIV, disproportionately affects Black and brown communities.
Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
An HIV doctor, infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at Harvard, Walensky will head the nation’s public health institute. Renowned AIDS activist Gregg Gonsalves says she’s “the perfect person to lead us out of the darkness of this [COVID-19] pandemic.”