November 30, 2010
Representatives of each of the Federal agencies designated by the President as lead agencies responsible for implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) conferred by conference call last week to discuss the status of their respective department's NHAS operational plans and to lay groundwork for future collaborations. Participants included representatives from the Departments of Labor, Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration. In addition, representatives from the Department of Education and the White House Office of National HIV/AIDS Policy joined the call.
All representatives reported that their operational plans are nearing completion and in various stages of final revision or review. The plans are due to the White House on December 9. In their plans, lead agencies are asked to detail 2010-2011 activities for implementing the Strategy. The plans will assign responsibilities to agency officials, describe approaches to or the status of activities tasked to each department in the Federal Implementation Plan, and identify other appropriate actions to advance the Strategy.
During our discussion, it became clear that each of the plans will reflect, in some way, the NHAS call for an enhanced focus on coordinating our efforts across Federal agencies, across all levels of government, with external partners, and throughout the health care system.
I shared with the call participants that we have heard significant interest from the HIV/AIDS community about the operational plans of HHS and the other lead agencies. The White House will review all operational plans after their December 9th submission and confer with departments as necessary about additions or revisions before the plans are shared more broadly with stakeholders, likely early next year.
The group also discussed possible topics for more in-depth discussion for a planned inter-Departmental meeting in January. We agreed to continue our ongoing discussions about how we can lend each other assistance in completing action steps detailed in the NHAS Federal Implementation Plan. Among the other cross-cutting issues proposed for examination and collaborative planning at the January meeting were housing and homelessness, prisons and jails, and protecting the civil rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and fighting AIDS-related discrimination.
What issues would you prioritize for the collaborative attention of these Federal departments? Please share your suggestion in the comments section below; we'd like to hear from you.
Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H. is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.