In Memoriam: Kristine Gebbie, First White House AIDS Czar
On May 17, 2022, Kristine Gebbie, who was often described as the country’s first AIDS czar, died of cancer at the age of 78 in a hospital in Adelaide, Australia, where she was living in retirement. In 1993, Gebbie was named as the country’s coordinator of AIDS policy and as coordinator of the Office of National AIDS Policy by President Bill Clinton. Prior to her appointment, she was the top public health official in Oregon and Washington state.
When Gebbie joined the Clinton Administration, AIDS had claimed the lives of about 200,000 Americans and was the leading cause of death of people ages 25 to 44, many of whom were gay men. In her White House role, Gebbie’s primary responsibility was to coordinate research and messaging among several federal agencies, including the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health.
HIV.gov recognizes Gebbie for her many years of service and dedication, as well as her recognition of the HIV and AIDS epidemic as a serious public health crisis. She is recognized for her institution of mandatory training programs on HIV/AIDS for all federal employees and her advocacy for more research funding and engaging and listening to the community, among other notable accomplishments.