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Mayor Gray Convenes First Meeting of Mayor's Commission on HIV/AIDS

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
DC Appleseed releases its sixth annual report card on HIV/AIDS in the nation’s capital.

(Washington, DC) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray today swore in and convened the first meeting of the Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS.  Mayor Gray created the Commission to help end the HIV epidemic in the District of Columbia. The Commission will focus on treatment, the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, and prevention to stop new infections.

“I am grateful to all of the community leaders who have agreed to come together to address the critical epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia,” said Gray.  “By uniting the government with experts in the field of HIV and respected members of the community, we can create a comprehensive approach to treating and ending an epidemic which has affected our entire city leaving no ward or community untouched.”

At the first meeting, Gray charged the Commission with three core responsibilities aimed at providing the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA) with guidance towards the development of a strategic plan:

  1. Develop evidence-based HIV/AIDS policy recommendations to help reduce HIV infection rates; increase HIV testing utilization; improve access to quality medical, substance abuse, mental health treatment, and housing for all persons with HIV/AIDS; and to determine the best way to achieve “treatment on demand” in the District.
  2. In concert with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, develop recommendations regarding coordination of the District‘s HIV/AIDS Strategy which will include: a) providing recommendations for public-private partnerships to address the continuum and capacity of health care delivery, programs, and related services; and  b)providing recommendations regarding coordination and collaboration across jurisdictional and international boundaries. 
  3. Develop recommendations to control the epidemic, while simultaneously creating training and employment opportunities within the District.

“In order for us to improve on the progress already made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and really make a difference by decreasing the rate of new infections and improving the care for our residents living with HIV/AIDS, we must engage the entire community,” said Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director of the Department of Health.  “This Commission brings together our established partners with new organizations to increase the scope, influence, and impact of our work, so that we can increase our success in this critical area.”  

DC Appleseed Sixth Report Card on HIV/AIDS

As evidence of Gray’s commitment to making HIV/AIDS a priority of his Administration, he invited DC Appleseed to present its latest report card on HIV/AIDS at the first meeting of the Commission.  Gray believes that successful strategies, initiatives, and programs are based on sound data and research, and DC Appleseed’s report will be one tool used to help guide the work of the Commission.  In addition to unveiling the grades in the 13 categories on which the District is rated, the report also recommended HIV/AIDS priorities for the new Administration.  Mayor Gray is the third District of Columbia Mayor to work with DC Appleseed to improve the District’s response to HIV/AIDS. 

DC Appleseed raised or maintained the District’s grades in seven areas:

  • Condom Distribution improved from a B+ to A-
  • Youth Initiatives improved from a B to B+
  • Substance Abuse Treatment improved from a B to B+
  • HIV Testing remained an A
  • HIV/AIDS Among the Incarcerated remained an A
  • Interagency Coordinated remained an A-
  • Monitoring and Evaluation remained a B- 

DC Appleseed decreased the District’s grade in four areas:

  • HIV Surveillance went from an A to A-
  • Grants Management went from a B+ to B
  • Syringe Exchange & Complementary Services went from a B+ to B
  • Leadership went from a B+ to B 

Mayor Gray fulfilled two of the report’s five recommendations for the new Administration within his first two months in office.  The recommendation to make HIV/AIDS a top Administration priority was addressed in Gray’s inaugural speech, while the recommendation to engage the entire city in the fight against HIV/AIDS was addressed when the formation of the Commission was announced in February. 

Mayor’s Commission on HIV/AIDS Members:

  • Vincent C. Gray, Mayor, Chair
  • Allen Lew, City Administrator
  • Beatriz “BB” Otero, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services
  • Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director, DOH, Co-Chair
  • Councilmember David Catania, At-Large
  • Councilmember Jim Graham, Ward 1
  • Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director for HAHSTA, Secretariat
  • Steve Baron, Director, Department of Mental Health (DMH)
  • Deborah Carroll, Interim Director, Department of Human Services (DHS)
  • Kaya Henderson, Interim Chancellor, DC Public Schools (DCPS)
  • Thomas Hoey, Interim Director, Department of Corrections (DOC)
  • Marco Aguilar, Vice President and Chief of Staff, DC Chamber of Commerce
  • Jeffrey Akman, Interim Vice Provost for Health Affairs, George Washington University
  • Cornelius Baker, National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition
  • Sharon Baskerville, DC Primary Care Association
  • Don Blanchon, CEO, Whitman Walker
  • Dr. Frederick Finelli, President, Medical Society of the District of Columbia
  • Isaac Fullwood, Chairman, US Parole Commission
  • Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor of Medicine, Howard University
  • Janelle Goetcheus, UNITY Healthcare
  • Dr. Bruce Rashbaum, Private Practice, Internal Medicine

Additional identified members will be named to the Commission at a future date once the appointment process is completed.