Celebrating Dr. Robyn Neblett Fanfair's Appointment: A Message From Kaye Hayes

Content From: B. Kaye Hayes, MPA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease and Director, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: April 16, 20243 min read


Left: Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD, MPH, Director, Division of HIV Prevention, National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, CDC; Right: B. Kaye Hayes, MPA, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Infectious Disease and Director, OIDP

This month we recognized National Public Health Week (NPHW) from April 1-7 as a time to highlight the contributions of public health and raise awareness regarding issues that are key to improving the health of our nation. “Protecting, Connecting and Thriving: We Are All Public Health” is this year’s NPHW theme, and I want to acknowledge the broad diversity of individuals in our communities who embody these words and who are committed to making a difference in public health. Among our dedicated members of the public health community is Robyn Neblett Fanfair, MD, MPH (CAPT, U.S. Public Health Service), who in February was named as the permanent Director of the Division of HIV Prevention (DHP), National Center for HIV, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since August 2022, Robyn served as the Acting Director of DHP, which oversees much of the CDC’s HIV prevention efforts. As DHP’s Director, she will continue to use her decades of experience and expertise to strengthen programs, resources, and services related to HIV/AIDS.

Robyn’s thoughtful leadership is instrumental in advancing our national goals to reduce new HIV infections and improve health outcomes for the diverse communities impacted by HIV. This improvement—like so many related factors in the HIV field—is influenced by, for example, centering communities in our efforts to end the HIV epidemic.

During last year’s US Conference on HIV/AIDSExit Disclaimer (USCHA), Robyn spoke to HIV.gov about the CDC’s commitment to community engagement. In this videoExit Disclaimer, she discusses how the agency’s community engagement sessions, conducted in Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative jurisdictions, reached over 1,600 leaders in the HIV field. Additionally, she so often effectively leads conversations not just to remind but also to inspire audiences that community engagement is paramount to achieving the goals outlined in the EHE initiative. Also, during the USCHA closing plenaryExit Disclaimer, Robyn’s words inspired us to think about how encouraging communities’ participation in the HIV response can lead to better health outcomes for Black women.

She reinforced this community-centered message at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic InfectionsExit Disclaimer (CROI) in March. During her interview at the conferenceExit Disclaimer, while talking about HIV self-testing, PrEP, PEP, aging, and more, Robyn shared her thoughts about the importance of thinking through an intersectional and equity lens to ensure these lifesaving interventions reach communities disproportionately impacted by HIV. Regarding DHP’s HIV and aging portfolio, she highlighted the engagement of communities with lived experience noting, “It’s so important that we center the experience of lifetime survivors and dandelions.”

At the recent Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) meeting in Houston, I also had the opportunity to work with Robyn. Her thoughtful, long-term view on HIV prevention policy has helped guide PACHA’s work, including her participation in site visits to HIV service organizations to continuously stay abreast of HIV efforts at local levels.

Robyn’s leadership, passion, and commitment inspire us all to continue working together toward improving the overall wellness of all people, including, for example, increasing PrEP access and use among priority populations, scaling up HIV testing, treatment, other prevention services, and addressing multiple other factors impacting the communities we serve and supporting our efforts to address the surge of syphilis, which you may read more about here.

As I close, I encourage you to watch a videoExit Disclaimer from USCHA in which Robyn and others talk about the importance of equity, women, and HIV. And, again, this National Public Health Week, let’s honor everyone who works to improve the health of all throughout the nation. Congratulations, Dr. Fanfair, on this well-deserved accomplishment!