New Washington, D.C., Mayor Fenty Will Not Reappoint HIV/AIDS Administration Director Martin
Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty on Wednesday confirmed that he will not reappoint Marsha Martin as director of the Administration for HIV Policy and Programs, the Washington Post reports. "We thought it was a good time to have a new set of eyes," Fenty said, adding, "This is one of our critical, critical issues." Martin, who announced her resignation Tuesday in an e-mail to staff members and community groups hours after Fenty was sworn into office, wrote that as an appointee of the administration of former Mayor Anthony Williams, it is her "time to leave the government." According to the Post, Martin's 16-month tenure as director of the HIV administration "earned mixed reviews." Although she was lauded for increasing awareness about HIV/AIDS in the district, she was criticized for her method of collaborating and coordinating with the HIV/AIDS community, the Post reports. "She has been instrumental in bringing greater visibility to the issue of HIV in the district," Walter Smith, executive director of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, said. He added that although the testing campaign Martin launched last summer was a significant development, it has not met its goal of having the majority of district residents know their HIV status. Smith also said that the district has begun to make positive developments in gathering epidemiological data because of staff Martin hired. "There were a lot of things she couldn't control," he said, adding that Martin's successor "has to get more support" from district officials. Donald Blanchon, executive director of the Whitman-Walker Clinic, said that Martin deserves credit for her efforts to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS. A. Toni Young, co-chair of the district's HIV Prevention Community Planning Group, said that Martin did not adequately collaborate with many HIV/AIDS community groups working directly with HIV-positive people. According to Administration for HIV Policy and Programs spokesperson Michael Kharfen, Martin was unavailable for comment. Martin previously served as executive director of AIDS Action and a special assistant to former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala (Levine, Washington Post, 1/4).
District Should Increase Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS, Opinion Piece Says
The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Washington, D.C., "remains disturbing and depressing," and the district's "rate of infection remains 10 times the national rate," Raymond Blanks, a member of the Community HIV Planning Group, writes in a Post opinion piece. According to Blanks, "many thousands of residents with HIV do not know their status" and "[n]early 20,000 of the city's residents are living with HIV." The "size of this epidemic requires an adequate scope of services to meet current and increasing demands," Blanks writes, adding that despite pledges from Williams, "real progress still eludes the Administration for HIV Policies and Programs." The "deadly health crisis" in the district is "still growing, while the city's ability to combat this disease with effective prevention and treatment services has not increased accordingly," according to Blanks. A report released last year by the DC Appleseed Center "asserted that the city was 15 years behind the scope and quality of services and management necessary to meet this growing health challenge," Blanks writes, concluding, "No appreciable improvements have been attained lately, while this disease continues to grow where people are most vulnerable. It's time for the district to truly deliver on its promises" (Blanks, Washington Post, 1/4).