White House National AIDS Policy Director Evertz Stepping Down
The Bush administration is expected to announce today that White House Office of National AIDS Policy Director Scott Evertz is leaving to take a position as a senior adviser on international HIV/AIDS policy to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, the New York Times reports. Evertz, an openly gay Republican, will be replaced by Dr. Joseph O'Neill, another openly gay man who currently serves as acting head of the HHS AIDS policy office. An unnamed official would not elaborate on the reasoning behind the switch but said the move was made at the request of Thompson, who has known Evertz since his days as a gay activist in Wisconsin, where Thompson was governor (Gay Stolberg, New York Times, 7/19). Another official said Evertz is "very excited" about the change (Lochhead/Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19).
However, some AIDS advocates said the switch is happening because Evertz angered some members of the administration with his support of condom use among gay men and his questioning of the administration's doubling of funding for abstinence-only sex education programs. "The pro-abstinence crowd within the administration is carrying the day," David Smith, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said, adding that Evertz's move was "not a good signal" (New York Times, 7/19). Evertz also drew criticism from some members of the administration for defending the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project last year when it was undergoing an audit by the HHS Office of Inspector General for allegedly using CDC funds to support "sexually explicit" HIV prevention programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Evertz also has criticized the administration's international HIV/AIDS efforts. Several days after Thompson was "drowned out" by protestors during a speech at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, as he "tried to defend" U.S. funding of international HIV/AIDS programs, Evertz was quoted as saying, "I think there is a sense that our feet are being held to the fire, and they should be" (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19).
Administration officials also are expected to announce that Patricia Ware will leave her post as executive director of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in the "next few weeks," the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, Ware, a conservative and "strong advocate of abstinence programs," was told yesterday that she will be replaced (Allen, Washington Post, 7/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.