It was with much fanfarethat President Obama appointed Douglas M. Brooks, one of the nation’s foremost HIV and AIDS policy authorities, as the director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy earlier this year. He did so due to the impressive résumé of Brooks, whose experience, Obama said at the time, makes him “uniquely suited to the task of helping to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation, which is within our reach.” Brooks became the first gay, African-American, HIV-positive man to fill the position — a significant stride at a time when young black gay and bi men are seeing high rates of new HIV infections in the country.
A graduate of Boston University with a master’s degree in social work, Brooks has extensive hands-on experience in the field, working in clinics and as a case manager for more than two decades, especially working with minority youth. He has chaired the board of trustees of AIDS United, and in 2010 he was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Most recently, Brooks was a leader at the Justice Resource Institute, a Boston-based nonprofit that, among other things, provides services to people living with HIV and AIDS.
Since assuming his role as the director of AIDS policy in March, Brooks has worked alongside public and private organizations to further develop such campaigns as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the HIV Care Continuum, which aim to reduce the national rate of HIV infection and to provide care and treatment for those affected.
“As the first openly black gay man living with HIV to hold the post, Mr. Brooks will bring incredible insight of what it means to be living with this disease to ONAP and the White House,” said Paul Kawata, the executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council, after Brooks’s presidential appointment. “As the most heavily impacted population in the country, it is critical that black gay men — especially those living with HIV — are represented at the highest levels of our government’s response to the epidemic.”
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