Now’s your chance to get a free, virtual front-row seat to hear national HIV leaders discuss policies to end HIV and care for those living with the virus. The 71st meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) will be livestreamed Tuesday and Wednesday, August 3 and 4, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. ET each day.
During these sessions, PACHA members will hear from federal experts, including Harold Phillips, who is the new director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (aka the nation’s AIDS czar); and Rachel Levine, MD, the assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. When she was confirmed to the post earlier this year, Levine made history as the highest-ranking transgender official in the U.S. government.
The next Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (#PACHA) meeting is TOMORROW!— HIV.gov (@HIVGov) August 2, 2021
Join the @HHSgov Livestream to watch federal leaders, PACHA members, and the HIV community discuss strategies & activities that can help us #EndHIVEpidemic. Learn more: https://t.co/7EpFKgaUoF pic.twitter.com/3XbOrOjOtV
According to HIV.gov, the PACHA council will also:
- Get a thematic review of [“Ending the Epidemic”] jurisdictional plans from [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and listen to panel discussions about those plans and next steps from both the local health department and community stakeholder perspectives;
- Consider issues related to advancing access [to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)] from both federal and local implementation perspectives;
- Share subcommittee reports;
- Hear public comment.
The meeting’s agenda one the first day also includes subcommittee reports on HIV stigma and disparities, global issues and the updated national HIV strategy. Most of the second day will cover issues around PrEP access as well as time to hear public comments. You can download and read the compete agenda of the 71st PACHA meeting here.
As its name suggests, PACHA gathers information on the nation’s HIV epidemic and advises the White House on actions and policies. The group has met for nearly 30 years, and memberships rotate regularly to accommodate stakeholders and experts. Below is a recent discussion with a current PACHA member you can watch:
PACHA last convened in March 2021, and, according to HHS.gov, “meeting topics included HIV in the wake of COVID-19, ensuring health equity in HIV treatment, care and prevention, and global perspectives on addressing HIV.” The August PACHA meeting “will build on these conversations and strategically plan on how to meet the goals of the ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. and the HIV National Strategic Plan.’”
Watch the livestream of the meeting on HHS.gov. If you can’t make it in real time, don’t worry. Videos of meetings also get posted on YouTube. For example, part 1 of the first meeting in March, is posted below:
The fact that PACHA is meeting again could be viewed as an encouraging sign. A year after President Trump took office in 2016, six PACHA members resigned in protest of the Trump administration; in December 2017, he fired the remaining members via a FedEx letter. A year later, Alex Azar, then the health secretary, named two new cochairs but no new members, and the council began meeting again in 2019.
The cochairs Azar named continue to serve today. They are Carl Schmid, MBA, the executive director of the HIV+Hepatitis Policy Institute, and John Wiesman, DrPH, MPH, of the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in Durham, North Carolina.
This week’s meeting will address the federal initiative “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” which was launched in 2019. The HIV plan aims to lower new HIV rates by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030. To learn more about the plan and recent developments, read “CDC Awards $117M to Local and State Efforts to End the HIV Epicemic.”
HIV.gov describes the responsibilities of the PACHA as:
PACHA shall provide advice, information and recommendations to the [secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services] regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV disease and AIDS, including consideration of common comorbidities of those infected with HIV as needed to promote effective HIV prevention and treatment and quality services to persons living with HIV disease and AIDS. The functions of the Council are solely advisory in nature.
- Gregg H. Alton, JD: Former chief patent officer, Gilead Sciences; San Francisco
- Alicia Diggs, MPH: Strategic community engagement education dissemination office manager, Center for AIDS Research; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Greensboro, North Carolina
- Vincent Guilamo-Ramos, PhD, MPH, LCSW, RN, ANP-BC, PMHNP-BC, AAHIVS, FAAN: Dean and professor, Duke University School of Nursing; vice chancellor, Nursing Affairs, Duke University; Durham, North Carolina
- Wendy Holman: CEO and cofounder, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics; Miami
- Marc Meachem, MBA: Head, external affairs, ViiV Healthcare North America; Washington, DC
- Rafaelé Narváez: Cofounder/director, health programs, Latinos Salud; Wilton Manors, Florida
- Laura Platero, JD: Executive director, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board; Portland, Oregon
- Michael Saag, MD: Associate dean, Global Health, School of Medicine and professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), and director, UAB Center for AIDS Research; Birmingham, Alabama
- John Sapero: Director, “Ending the HIV Epidemic,” Collaborative Research LLC; Phoenix
- Robert A. Schwartz, MD, MPH, DSc (Hon): Professor and head, Dermatology, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Newark
- Justin C. Smith, MS, MPH: Director, Campaign to End AIDS, Positive Impact Health Centers, and Behavioral Scientist, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University; Atlanta, Georgia
- Ada Stewart, RPh, MD, FAAFP, AAHIVS, HMDC: Lead provider and HIV specialist, Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers (Now Cooperative Health); Columbia, South Carolina
Visit HIV.gov for a bio about each member as well as information about PACHA liaisons, staff members and subcommittees.