Advocates began lauding the long-awaited confirmation of Dr. Deborah Birx as the new Global AIDS Ambassador yesterday as soon as the Senate finished unanimously voting for the former head of the CDC’s Global AIDS Program to take over former Ambassador Eric Goosby’s position as the head of PEPFAR.
“Her focus, determination and dedication to research and to bringing evidence-based answers to the people who need them most will be valuable assets during this challenging time,” said Dr. Ken Mayer, co-chair of the Center for Global Health Policy’s Scientific Advisory Committee, which produces this blog. “Her advocacy for adequate and appropriate resources will be vital to the continued success of United States efforts to combat AIDS worldwide,” he said in a statement.
In AVAC’s statement congratulating her confirmation, they note that Birx is assuming her new role at a critical time for PEPFAR, and her leadership will be essential for meeting the goals laid out in the PEPFAR Blueprint for Creating and AIDS-Free Generation: “Last year, PEPFAR 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.”
Deborah Derrick, President of Friends of the Global Fight, said in a statement “At a moment when an AIDS-free generation is within our sights for the first time in history, I could not be more pleased about Dr. Birx’s confirmation. She is the epitome of a global health leader, having spent her professional life working to change the trajectory of the disease around the world.”
As advocates continue to applaud Birx’s confirmation, the question remains when she’ll be sworn in to assume PEPFAR’s leadership.