Obama names Bay Area doctor as ‘HIV/AIDS’ czar

President Obama today named a Bay Area physician as his HIV/AIDS czar.

Dr. Grant ColfaxDr. Grant Colfax, 47, of Sausalito, will leave his post as head of the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s HIV Prevention Section to become director of the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), which coordinates the government’s efforts to reduce the nation’s number of HIV infections and care for citizens with HIV/AIDS.

“Grant’s expertise will be key as we continue to face serious challenges and take bold steps to meet them,” Obama said in a news release. “I look forward to his leadership in the months and years to come.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, said the appointment “brings enormous pride to many San Franciscans and prestige to our city’s efforts to increase prevention, ensure treatment, and support research.” She said Colfax has been essential in ensuring San Francisco’s decline in new HIV infections, pioneering evidence-based prevention strategies such as monitoring and mapping “community viral load.” The city/county’s model of HIV/AIDS care “has become the national standard, and today, with the appointment of Grant Colfax, President Obama has recognized our efforts,” she said.

ONAP also coordinates with the National Security Council and the State Department’s Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and works with international bodies to ensure that America’s response to the global pandemic is fully integrated with other prevention, care, and treatment efforts around the world.

Colfax is Harvard Medical School graduate who completed his medical residency at the University of California, San Francisco. His work in studying HIV testing strategies, clinical trials of medications to treat substance dependence and other HIV prevention methods has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And he has been a practicing clinician at the Positive Health Program, San Francisco’s public HIV clinic.

UPDATE @ 2:25 P.M.: Rep. Barbara Lee, who has been a leader in Congress on HIV/AIDS issues, said she looks forward to working with Colfax.

“While we have made tremendous strides over the past thirty years, HIV remains a crisis in our communities – threatening the well-being of our neighborhoods, the health of our families, and the lives of our brothers and sisters,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “However, at this moment of time, an extraordinary opportunity is in front of us. Scientific discovery has brought new powerful tools and created a renewed momentum to do what it takes to bring AIDS to an end.”

“This summer, the United States will host the International AIDS Conference for the first time in 20 years – a remarkable opportunity to take aggressive steps to fight the domestic epidemic and partner with countries in this global fight.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.