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