With Gratitude for Dr. Colfax’s Service

Content From: Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, and Director, Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesPublished: January 13, 20143 min read


President Obama greets Grant Colfax and Gayle Smith of the National Security Council as Valerie Jarrett looks on. President Obama greets Grant Colfax and Gayle Smith of the National Security Council as Valerie Jarrett looks on.As his tenure as Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy comes to a close this week, we extend our sincere appreciation to Dr. Grant Colfax for his service. Appointed by President Obama as his lead advisor on domestic HIV/AIDS in 2012, Dr. Colfax has since been responsible for overseeing implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and guiding the Administration’s HIV/AIDS policies across Federal agencies.

Among his accomplishments, Grant led ONAP’s efforts to sharpen the focus of the ongoing implementation of the NHAS through the introduction of the HIV Care Continuum Initiative last summer. Through this initiative, the President instructed federal agencies to accelerate efforts to increase HIV testing, care, and treatment to better address “drop-offs” along the continuum of HIV care and increase the proportion of individuals who have the virus effectively controlled. Doing so, the President observed, will enable us to meet the goals of the Strategy and move closer to an AIDS-free generation. The first recommendations and action steps developed by federal agencies in response to the HIV Care Continuum Initiative were released as part of a report from ONAP during the White House’s 2013 World AIDS Day observance.

Grant also has coordinated ONAP efforts to foster and support state and local level implementation of the Strategy, convening a series of community discussions around the country that helped bolster ongoing local efforts as well as inform national program and policy activities. In another important contribution to the national response to HIV/AIDS, Grant served as co-chair of the interagency Federal Working Group on the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender-Related Health Disparities. The report issued last fall by that workgroup has helped put a spotlight on these overlapping challenges as well as identify actions to improve collaboration among agencies by leveraging federal resources in support of the health and well-being of women and girls living with or at high-risk for HIV/AIDS and violence.

In addition, Grant has also been an advocate for identifying key common indicators to monitor HIV outcomes to enhance our ability to measure and track progress made by federal programs as well as states, cities, and local communities in combating the HIV epidemic as implementation of the NHAS continues. He has also always been willing to help share with the broader community important information from key HIV/AIDS conferences, including CROI and AIDS 2012Exit Disclaimer, as well as promoting involvement in National HIV Testing Day.

Finally, we are also most grateful that Grant has been an enthusiastic ally in our efforts to pursue the goals of the Action Plan for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Viral Hepatitis. With his support, we have had the good fortune to be able to host two consecutive observances of World Hepatitis Day at the White House, lending greater awareness to our important efforts to intensify the national response to this silent epidemic.

Grant has been an innovative leader and dedicated partner. I know that with all of his expertise, passion, and experience he will continue to be a great ally in efforts to achieve the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the Viral Hepatitis Action Plan. We wish Grant all the best.