July 6, 2009
Hours after his Senate confirmation, the new U.S. global AIDS coordinator flew from the Bay Area to Geneva. Dr. Eric Goosby was sworn in as soon as his plane landed and got directly to work leading the U.S. delegation in a meeting with the UNAIDS coordinating committee.
Goosby commands a $6.3 billion annual budget to fight HIV/AIDS overseas. His top priorities are HIV education and prevention, boosting antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission, and persuading poor nations to take on greater management and financial responsibility for treatment.
Regarding treatment, Goosby said, "We're really focused on trying to identify patients who are HIV-positive and in late stages of the disease." The United States will also help nations to "stage" the treatment of patients, determining who needs to be placed on ARVs for life.
"We're going to continue trying to bring individuals into drug treatment," Goosby said. "These drugs stop progression of HIV in the person and also drop the infectivity of the person precipitously."
Yet even as he praised the progress brought by treatment, Goosby acknowledged, "We're not going to be able to treat ourselves out of the epidemic, and prevention efforts will need to be continued and increased. We also need to look for concentrations of patients who have a higher probability of HIV infection, such as pregnant women -- getting them tested, getting them on [ARVs], which will prevent transmission to the fetus," he said.