March 9, 2011 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Catania, Graham named to D.C. HIV/AIDS Commission

D.C. Council members Jim Graham and David Catania (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Gay D.C. Council members David Catania (I-At-Large) and Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), Whitman-Walker Clinic director Don Blanchon, and D.C. gay and AIDS activist Cornelius Baker are among 21 people that Mayor Vincent Gray has appointed to his newly created Commission on HIV/AIDS.

Gray announced the appointees at the commission’s first meeting on Tuesday. Among the others serving on the commission are Gray himself and seven high-level officials from his administration, including Dr. Mohammad Akhter, director of the D.C. Department of Health, and Dr. Gregory Pappas, the gay head of the city’s Office of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, Sexually Transmitted Disease and Tuberculosis.

Gray also named to the commission gay psychiatrist Jeffrey Akman, a recognized expert in LGBT and AIDS-related psychiatry who serves as Interim Vice Provost for Health Affairs at George Washington University; and D.C. gay physician Bruce Rashbaum.

“I am grateful to all of the community leaders who have agreed to come together to address the critical epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the District of Columbia,” Gray said at the meeting. “By uniting the government with experts in the field of HIV and respected members of the community, we can create a comprehensive approach to treating and ending an epidemic, which has affected our entire city leaving no ward or community untouched.”

Additional members of the commission will be named over the next several weeks, Gray said.

Among the topics discussed at the meeting was the just-released sixth “report card” on the city’s progress in addressing the AIDS epidemic prepared by the independent, non-profit watchdog group D.C. Appleseed. The report card shows the city has improved or maintained its grades ranging from A, A- and B in several of the 12 areas the group monitors.

It also shows declining grades in other areas, including monitoring grants to AIDS service groups, HIV surveillance and data gathering, and overall “leadership” on HIV/AIDS by the mayor. Appleseed officials said the report card covered the period between October 2009 and February 2011 and reflected the policies and programs of former Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Appleseed report card can be viewed at dcappleseed.org.

Following are the names of the commission members as announced on Tuesday:

Vincent C. Gray, Mayor, Chair

Allen Lew, City Administrator

Beatriz “BB” Otero, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services

Dr. Mohammad Akhter, Director, DOH, Co-Chair

Council member David Catania, At-Large

Council member Jim Graham, Ward 1

Dr. Gregory Pappas, Senior Deputy Director for HAHSTA

Steve Baron, Director, Department of Mental Health (DMH)

Deborah Carroll, Interim Director, Department of Human Services (DHS)

Kaya Henderson, Interim Chancellor, DC Public Schools (DCPS)

Thomas Hoey, Interim Director, Department of Corrections (DOC)

Marco Aguilar, Vice President and Chief of Staff, DC Chamber of Commerce

Jeffrey Akman, Interim Vice Provost for Health Affairs, GWU

Cornelius Baker, National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition

Sharon Baskerville, DC Primary Care Association

Don Blanchon, CEO, Whitman-Walker

Dr. Frederick Finelli, President, Medical Society of the District of Columbia

Isaac Fullwood, Chairman, US Parole Commission

Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor of Medicine, Howard University

Janelle Goetcheus, UNITY Healthcare

Dr. Bruce Rashbaum, Private Practice, Internal Medicine

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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