November 16, 2010
The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) shared observations and feedback on a preliminary, confidential draft of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) Operational Plan during a members-only conference call on November 9, 2010. My colleague Christopher Bates, PACHA's Executive Director, and I co-facilitated the call. Members of our team helping prepare the plan listened to the feedback offered.
The NHAS Federal Implementation Plan tasks PACHA with providing, on an ongoing basis, recommendations on how to effectively implement the strategy, as well as monitoring the strategy's implementation. During the conference call, PACHA members shared general observations, raised particular questions, and offered specific suggestions for sharpening some sections of the draft HHS Operational Plan. Several of the members congratulated the department on developing an important document containing much to be recommended. Important issues that came up during the call included the critical ability to be able to assess progress made toward achieving the goals of the NHAS, questions about the level of resources that might be necessary to achieve the goals of the strategy, and observations about the role of the Affordable Care Act in helping to increase access to care and reduce health disparities for people living with HIV/AIDS. Several PACHA members also submitted detailed written feedback, comments and suggestions. Some members also expressed interest in reviewing the operational plans developed by the other Federal departments designated by the President as "lead agencies" primarily responsible for implementation of the strategy (i.e., the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration).
This consultation was part of a broader effort by HHS to confer widely -- both inside and outside the department -- to develop the Operational Plan. In addition to the consultation with PACHA, development of the HHS Operational Plan has been informed by significant external input received in writing, online via AIDS.gov blog comments, and through conversations with the community at conferences, during conference calls, and at a community consultation held in October.
The input received from PACHA and others will help to inform the final revisions to the HHS NHAS Operational Plan, which is due to the White House on December 9, 2010, 150 days following the release of the NHAS.
Ron Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H. is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.