Policy & Politics
HHS Secretary Thompson Hired Openly Gay Former Rep. Gunderson to "Reassess Domestic AIDS Strategy," POZ Reports
January 15, 2004
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson last year hired openly gay former Rep. Steve Gunderson (R-Wis.) to "reassess domestic AIDS strategy -- and do a little burned-bridge repair," according to POZ magazine, The Hill reports (DuFour/Eisele, The Hill, 1/14). After a "string of Republican AIDS bungles" -- including the administration's plans to close the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, multiple audits of the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project and the potential "censorship" of prevention programs and federally funded research -- Thompson "much less publicly" brought in Gunderson, who left Congress in 1996 after 16 years in office, according to POZ. Gunderson held meetings between HHS staff members and AIDS advocates, POZ reports. The meetings "culminated in a high-powered, closed-door" meeting in early September, during which leaders of a dozen large AIDS organizations voiced their concerns about the CDC's new HIV/AIDS prevention initiative with several government leaders, including Thompson, NIAID Director Anthony Fauci and CDC Director Julie Gerberding, according to POZ (Kaplan, POZ, January 2004). The CDC in April announced a new HIV/AIDS prevention strategy that will shift funding distribution away from community groups that provide education aimed at reducing unsafe sexual and drug-use behaviors in people who have not contracted HIV. According to the strategy, the government will invest most heavily in initiatives that focus on identifying HIV-positive people who are unaware of their status, which could jeopardize approximately $90 million in annual federal funding for community groups (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/16/03). HHS spokesperson Tony Jewell said that the meetings served as "outreach to better explain what it is we're doing," adding that Thompson "is always interested in hearing how things can be done better" (POZ, January 2004).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.