Rear Admiral Deborah Parham-Hopson, Ph.D., MSPH, RN, known to many in the HIV community for her decades of work on the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, is retiring from federal service. Dr. Parham-Hopson, an Assistant Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service, retires from federal service after a career committed to serving the underserved and focusing on the importance of leadership in the provision of health care services, according to an announcement from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s HIV/AIDS Bureau (HRSA/HAB).
Early in her career, she served as a Presidential Management Intern and worked for the Institute of Medicine studying the shortage of nurses. Dr. Parham-Hopson joined the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) in 1984. During a long career at HRSA, she worked in many programs including community and migrant health centers, healthcare for the homeless, healthcare for residents of public housing, and Healthy Start programs. She also completed special assignments in the Office of the Surgeon General and the Indian Health Service.
Many in the HIV field know Dr. Parham-Hopson best for her decades of work in HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau on the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP). In 1991, she began working for what is now HAB as a program evaluator. Her subsequent positions with the program included:
- Director, RWHAP Part C (1994-1997);
- Director, Division of Community-Based Programs, HAB (1997–2000);
- Deputy Associate Administrator, HAB (2000-2002); and
- Associate Administrator, HAB (2002–2013).
As HRSA’s Associate Administrator for the HIV/AIDS Bureau for 11 years, she was responsible for managing the $2.4 billion Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program which provides funds to cities, states, and local community-based organizations for a comprehensive system of care that includes primary medical care and essential support services for people living with HIV who are uninsured or underinsured. The program annually serves over a half million people living with HIV disease in the United States and U.S. Territories.
Since leaving HAB, Dr. Parham-Hopson has served at the HRSA’s Senior Health Advisor in the office of the HRSA Administrator. In that role she has provided expert guidance on national and global public health issues, programs, policies, and initiatives with a particular emphasis on HIV/AIDS in the U.S., Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.
“All of us at OHAIDP want to thank and recognize Dr. Parham-Hopson. I worked with her while I was at the CDC and in my current role on the Federal Interagency Workgroup that coordinates, implements, and monitors the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. She has been a part of the Strategy since its inception in 2010,” observed Dr. Rich Wolitski, Director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. “Her experience and wisdom have been extraordinary assets as we have been striving to better coordinate our national response to HIV.”
Reflecting back on her career and her many accomplishments, Dr. Parham-Hopson is most proud of:
- Mentoring commissioned officers, federal colleagues, and RWHAP providers;
- Establishment of HRSA’s role in the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) (2003);
- Participating in all four reauthorizations of the Ryan White legislation, including leading the process in 2006 and 2009; and
- Development of the Ryan White Client-Level Data System (2007).
In addition to these accomplishments, it is important to note that Dr. Parham- Hopson is the first African-American nurse to achieve Rear Admiral rank in history of the USPHS.
On her retirement from federal service, the HIV.gov team salutes and thanks Dr. Parham-Hopson for her commitment to building, strengthening, and enhancing the federal response to HIV from the early days of the epidemic through today.