NEW YORK — Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, an AIDS doctor and activist credited for his on-the-ground work with meningitis vaccines last year in New York City, has been named the city’s new assistant health commissioner in charge of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control. He’ll start in September at a $180,000-per-year salary, the New York Times reports.
At the height of the meningitis outbreak last year among gay and bi men, Daskalakis spent many nights in the city’s sex clubs and bathhouses administering meningitis vaccines. He had been given the go-ahead to do so after city officials found their own efforts were met with suspicion, the article said.
In his new role, he and his colleagues at the health department hope that he will be able to leverage his acceptance among gay people, and history of taking HIV treatment into the trenches, to reach a population that has not always trusted authority. They also hope he will be able to reach marginalized groups like young black and Latino men who have sex with men but who, for social or cultural reasons, do not identify as gay or bisexual, the Times article said.
Daskalakis takes over one of the largest bureaus within the health department, with 200 employees and a $200 million budget, at a critical moment in the history of the virus that causes AIDS, the Times reports.