Earlier this week, I was able to join in on the weekly Regional Health Administrator's call and provide an update on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Many of the Regional Health Administrators and the Regional AIDS Coordinators are already very familiar with the NHAS and the specific steps called for in the Implementation Plan. They were enthusiastic when I shared that Dr. Howard Koh, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, is very interested in working with HHS Regional Offices to assist in the implementation of the NHAS. Several participants on the call provided examples of other important public health issues, like emergency preparedness and influenza prevention, where Regional Health Offices have played a critical role in helping to coordinate local and state-level activities. As I mentioned in last week's post, the HHS NHAS Implementation Group met for the first time last week and as our planning progresses, we will have a better sense of how Regional Offices can contribute to the implementation of the Strategy.
Later in the week a number of my colleagues joined me for a "listening session" about the NHAS at the 2010 Ryan White Grantee Meeting in Washington, D.C. More than 2,500 Ryan White grantee representatives attended this biannual meeting, including direct care providers, program/fiscal administrators, members of planning councils or board members, consumers, and Federal staff. During the conference the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy hosted a session to take comments and questions about the NHAS, Implementation Plan, and HHS Operational Plan. After Christopher Bates, Executive Director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, provided an overview of the NHAS, we opened the floor to comments and questions It was an excellent opportunity for us to hear directly from the HIV community from across the country about their successes, challenges, and concerns with the NHAS. Participants were very positive about the NHAS and the importance of achieving its goals but noted that we must invest in training staff and developing high-quality systems of prevention and care in order to meet the targets.
We look forward to continuing this dialogue about the NHAS at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA) next month in Orlando, Florida. Dr. Howard Koh, Mr. Jeff Crowley and I will be joined by David Munar from the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Phill Wilson from the Black AIDS Institute, and other community leaders at the closing session, "The National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Taking Steps to Make it Real at the Community Level." If you will be attending USCA, we encourage you to come to the session where you will not only hear from us, but where we look forward to hearing from YOU.
If you are not planning to go to USCA, please use this blog, as well as other online and in-person opportunities to share your thoughts and insights about how we can continue to work together to implement the Strategy.
Dr. Ron Valdiserri is Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.