IAS – the International AIDS Society – welcomes the appointment of Dr John Nkengasong as the head of the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Dr Nkengasong was sworn in as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State on 13 June 2022. In this role, he leads, manages and oversees PEPFAR.
Born in Cameroon, Dr Nkengasong has worked for many years in Africa, the world’s most heavily HIV-affected region where many PEPFAR programmes are implemented.
“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, PEPFAR has proven remarkably resilient in protecting and advancing hard-fought gains against HIV as well as creating the backbone to fight COVID-19 and other global health threats,” Dr Nkengasong wrote in his arrival message. “I know all this to be true, as I have lived and seen firsthand the positive impact it has had on people around the globe.”
IAS President Adeeba Kamarulzaman said: “Dr John Nkengasong's leadership is critical to advance the tremendous gains made by PEPFAR in regions most affected by the HIV pandemic that have had a significant setback as a result of COVID-19 and address the inequities, stigma and discrimination that still hinder the HIV response.”
Dr Nkengasong, a virologist, is the first person of African origin to lead PEPFAR in its 18-year history. Previously, he served as the Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under his leadership, the Africa CDC trained and empowered young African scientists and improved COVID-19 testing and access to vaccines.
This is a new chapter for PEPFAR. With Dr Nkengasong’s swearing in at PEPFAR, the IAS looks forward to enhanced global collaboration towards our shared goal of strengthening and sustaining the HIV response.
Forty years since AIDS was first reported, 38 million people are estimated to be living with HIV worldwide.