Dr. James Sosman, National Colleagues Discuss ‘End the HIV Epidemic’ Initiative with HHS Secretary Alex Azar II and Federal Leaders

Above, HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) board members, including James Sosman, MD (fifth from left), met with federal leaders to discuss the Trump administration’s “End the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” initiative. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)

L to R: Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Policy Tammy Beckham, DVM, PhD; Alice Thornton, MD, FIDSA*;  Allison Agwu, MD, SCM*; Lynsay MacLaren, MPH, MPAS, PA-C*; James Sosman, MD*; U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar II; Melanie Thompson, MD*; W. David Hardy, MD*; HIVMA Executive Director Andrea Weddle; Marwan Haddad, MD, MPH*; HIVMA’s Ryan White Medical Providers Coalition Convener Jenny Collier, JD; Assistant Secretary for Health ADM Brett Giroir, MD.

*HIVMA board member

 

James Sosman, MD, professor (CHS), General Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease, along with colleagues from the HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) Board of Directors, had the opportunity to meet recently with three federal leaders—including Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar II—to discuss the Trump administration’s “End the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” initiative.

The meeting was held in Washington, DC, on June 27, 2019, as part of the HIMVA board’s Advocacy Day. Joining Secretary Azar were HHS leaders ADM Brett Giroir, MD, Assistant Secretary for Health, and Tammy Beckham, DVM, PhD, Director of the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Diseases Policy.

“End the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” was first announced by President Donald J. Trump in the State of the Union Address on February 5, 2019. The 10-year initiative, which begins this fiscal year, seeks to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75 percent within five years, and then by at least 90 percent by 2030.

The first five years of the initiative will focus efforts in 48 counties, Washington, DC, San Juan (PR), and seven states with substantial rural HIV burden (view PDF of list). Specific action items include:

  • Increasing investments in geographic hotspots through existing, effective programs, such as the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, as well as a new program through community health centers that will provide pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to protect people at highest risk for getting HIV;
  • Using data to identify where HIV is spreading most rapidly and guide decision-making to address prevention, care, and treatment needs at the local level; and
  • Supporting the jurisdictions to establish local teams committed to the success of the Initiative and expand HIV prevention and treatment services.

During the meeting with the HIVMA board, Secretary Azar shared the rapid timeline for implementing Phase I of the initiative. That phase includes planning grants for the target jurisdictions, which will be awarded in September 2019.

Dr. Sosman said that the HIVMA board recognized HHS staff for its leadership on the initiative, and particularly appreciated Azar’s presence at the meeting.

“Overall, we were encouraged by the thoughtfulness with which the administration is approaching this,” he recalled. “They are doing a lot of formative work with communities and allowing communities to help set the agenda.”

“It was an excellent opportunity to attend such a substantive meeting with a cabinet member,” he added.

In addition to his role on the board of HIVMA, an advocacy organization of medical professionals who practice HIV medicine, Dr. Sosman is a national board member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine (AAHIVM).

An HIV specialist at the UW Health Infectious Disease Clinic who also practices internal medicine at the UW Health University Station Clinic, he is also the medical director for the UW Health HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Care Program, the medical director of the Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center of Wisconsin (MATEC-WI), and the principal investigator and medical director for the University of Wisconsin Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Grants.

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