New York Times Examines Process for Finding PEPFAR Administrator Replacement After Dybul Asked To Resign
The New York Times on Saturday examined the "abrupt" departure of former U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator Mark Dybul, which has "led to debate" about who should replace him as the next administrator of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Dybul on Jan. 9 indicated that President Obama's transition team had asked him to remain in the position temporarily; however, on Jan. 22, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's staff announced that Dybul had resigned. According to State Department spokesperson Robert Wood, the agency asked Dybul to resign because he was a political appointee of former President George W. Bush's administration. "And that's all that was," Wood said, adding that Dybul received the same treatment as other Bush appointees. According to the Times, HIV/AIDS advocates have "both celebrated and condemned" Dybul's resignation.
Jodi Jacobson, former head of the Center for Health and Gender Equity, endorsed Dybul's departure, arguing that he had worked too closely with conservatives and the Roman Catholic Church, which influenced his policies on condom distribution. However, Michael Gerson, Washington Post columnist and former Bush speechwriter, responded that some advocates had misconstrued Dybul's record. According to the Times, a coalition of 68 HIV/AIDS organizations on Jan. 26 sent a letter to Clinton asking her not to fill the post immediately, but rather form a committee to identify candidates and incorporate a variety of viewpoints. Brian Hennessey of the Vineeta Foundation, a co-author of the letter, expressed concern that the State Department was not honoring their request, adding, "This isn't the truth in advertising of the Obama campaign."
According to the Times, the administration's "secrecy" in choosing the next PEPFAR administrator has caused concern among some HIV/AIDS policy experts, who have circulated several names in discussion about Dybul's successor. According to the Times, possible candidates who have been discussed include Eric Goosby, director of HIV/AIDS policy during President Clinton's administration who now runs a San Francisco HIV/AIDS organization; Jim Yong Kim, professor at Harvard Medical School and former World Health Organization HIV/AIDS chief; Nils Daulaire, president of the Global Health Council; Wafaa El-Sadr, epidemiologist at the Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health; and Warren Buckingham, PEPFAR's director in Kenya who is openly gay and taking antiretroviral drugs. However, some advocates say they are not aware that Obama's transition team "seriously evaluated" any candidates for the position (McNeil, New York Times, 1/31).