CDC Announces New Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention

Wednesday November 18, 2020

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis  (Source:CDC)

Despite the current administration's fall-out amid the 2020 presidential election, The CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) is moving forward with a new appointment, welcoming Dr. Demetre Daskalakis as CDC's Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) beginning December 21, 2020.

Dr. Daskalakis was integral in designing and leading many HIV and STD programs in New York City, including the Ending the Epidemic program, which is credited with decreasing HIV incidence to a historic low. Dr. Daskalakis will bring this leadership and experience to the CDC to advance research, guide surveillance and programs, support and implement effective policy, and ultimately prevent HIV infections and increase HIV-related health equity across the United States.

Dr. Daskalakis began his career as an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, where he spearheaded several public health programs focused on community HIV testing and prevention. He has since served in several capacities in both healthcare and public health in NYC.

Most recently, Dr. Daskalakis served as the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. He directed the public health laboratory and all infectious disease control programs for New York City, including HIV, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, vaccine-preventable diseases, and general communicable diseases. In this role, he led one of the Department's largest divisions, employing more than 1,100 staff, managing a budget of over $350 million, and operating 14 clinical facilities. In addition to his leadership in daily infectious disease control efforts, he has served as the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene incident commander during the measles outbreak of 2018-2019 and the current COVID-19 public health emergency since January 2020.

Dr. Daskalakis has authored or co-authored more than 50 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards for his scientific and public health contributions, including the Treatment Action Group Research in Action Award, the Latino Commission on AIDS Esperanza Award, the GMHC Hector Xtravagnza Xcellence Award, and the World AIDS Day awards from both New York City and New York State.

Dr. Daskalakis is recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in HIV prevention and has focused much of his career on the treatment and prevention of HIV and other STIs as an activist physician focusing on LGBTQ communities. He has also dedicated much of his time to improving the health of underserved communities and is passionate about addressing health equity.

"I still get emotional talking about the early days of the AIDS epidemic not because I'm sad, but because I can't believe how different the story is today," said Dr. Daskalakis in a statement from the CDC. " We have the tools at our hands to prevent infection and to keep people living with HIV healthy. Our barrier to achieving this vision is no longer science; it is systemic racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia."

Dr. Daskalakis is committed to addressing stigma in HIV by promoting "status neutral" service delivery and programming and improving the overall health and well-being of people with or at risk for HIV by addressing key social determinants of health. He has also shown dedication to ensuring that biomedical prevention options, like PrEP, are accessible and affordable to all who can benefit from them and that the importance of viral suppression as prevention is recognized by public health, healthcare, and the community-at-large.

Until his arrival on December 21st, Dr. Irene Hall will continue to act as the DHAP Director.

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