Deborah Birx Nominated as New U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator
Following her confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Dr. Deborah Birx, currently Director of Global AIDS at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will be named as the new Director of the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator. She will serve as an ambassador in the role formerly held by Eric Goosby, who has served since 2009. President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Birx in a Jan. 9 statement, in which he also tapped two other women to his cabinet.
"I am confident that these outstanding women will greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come," said Obama.
AIDS service organizations from across the country lauded the move, which will leave Birx in charge of administering the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Birx is a pioneer in HIV/AIDS vaccine research, and was instrumental in organizing and implementing the landmark gp160 and RV 144 vaccine therapy efficacy trials.
"Dr. Birx is an internationally renowned expert on HIV/AIDS who has contributed significantly to groundbreaking research throughout her illustrious career," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "She brings to the table just the right mix of technical, management and leadership skills, and a keen understanding of what needs to be done to accomplish the AIDS free generation goal reaffirmed by President Obama in his State of the Union Address last year. We look forward to working with her."
The U.S. is the leading provider of international HIV assistance, accounting for almost half (49 percent) of all international HIV funding in 2012. PEPFAR supports antiretroviral treatment for over five million people and in 2012 alone prevented 230,000 children from acquiring HIV. Advocates hope that Birx will implement increased funding for PEPFAR, and improve the response among key populations like MSM, injection drug users and sex workers.
AVAC also lauded Birx’s storied career in both HIV prevention research and service delivery, which has been characterized by passionate commitment to ambitious, innovative responses to the epidemic. Birx focused her early career on AIDS vaccine research, ultimately serving as Director of the US Military HIV Research Program as it initiated the RV 144 vaccine trial that showed in 2009 through modest efficacy that an AIDS vaccine was possible.