Two days after her confirmation as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Ambassador at large, Dr. Deborah Birx was sworn in today to her new office, the U.S. Department of State has announced. The announcement ends five months of waiting for the office to be filled that came during a pivotal point in the U.S. response to the global AIDS pandemic.
Advocates have cheered the nomination and confirmation of the physician researcher who over the last 30 years has focused her work on vaccine research as well as treatment access, and has led two global AIDS programs, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control’s global AIDS program, and the U.S. Military Research Program.
The State Department release announcing the event today quotes Ambassador Birx saying she is “honored and humbled to lead PEPFAR into a brand new chapter to achieve an AIDS-free generation through shared responsibility, accountability and impact.”
She takes office at a time when the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief has made unprecedented accelerated strides toward turning the trajectory of HIV worldwide, but also at a time when the program is challenged by stagnant funding, budget cuts across global health and research programs, and repressive new laws criminalizing support for men who have sex with men in Uganda and Nigeria, two countries among the hardest hit by HIV.