Jeff Crowley is the Program Director of the National HIV/AIDS Initiative at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and Distinguished Scholar. Mr. Crowley is a widely recognized expert on HIV/AIDS, and from February 2009 through December 20011, he served as the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy for President Barack Obama. In this capacity he led the development of our country’s first domestic National HIVAIDS Strategy for the United States. The strategy has reinvigorated that fight against HIV/AIDS in the U.S. helping to ensure that HIV positive children and their families have access to quality affordable care, treatment and support services.
We asked Jeff to share some of his insights on EGPAF's impact over its 25 years.
Question: When did you first become aware of EGPAF and its work? What were your impressions of EGPAF as you began your work in the epidemic?
Answer: I was working for the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) in 1995 and we received a small grant from EGPAF which was instrumental in establishing National HIV Testing Day. This was before effective HIV treatments were available. At the time, NAPWA felt that it was important for people with HIV to send a strong signal that medical advances meant that all people should know their HIV status and that there were things people could to lengthen and improve their lives if they knew they were positive. Previously, some advocacy organizations had argued against testing saying that it would open people to stigma and discrimination with little benefit. It is also important to remember that there was not the same strong consensus that exists today to make HIV testing a priority. But, even back then, EGPAF had been a leader in supporting HIV testing. Now, even before we had effective treatments, we did have effective therapies to prevent pregnant women from passing HIV to their newborns, so this was a natural position for EGPAF. But, this initial collaboration took place in an environment where a number of people were pushing problematic testing proposals, and it was great to have EGPAF working with NAPWA (which was the voice of people with HIV) to work against harmful policies, but also to support a positive agenda for increasing knowledge of serostatus. It has been amazing to see how National HIV Testing Day has grown from its very humble roots at NAPWA. I seem to recollect that EGPAF's grant was relatively small, yet it is no exaggeration to say that this support was also critical.
Question: As someone who has been a part of the domestic and global HIV/AIDS communities, how have you seen the urgency around pediatric HIV grow and change, and how has EGPAF adapted?
Answer: EGPAF is a very different organization than it once was. Maybe you had operated international programs before, but I remember some point in the 1990s when you made a strategic decision to operate or step up your programming internationally. It is amazing to see the impact you are having on the ground. It is important to remember your domestic roots, and when I meet young leaders, such as Cristina Pena that have been affiliated with EGPAF, it is a reminder that we cannot forget about young people with HIV in the United States. But, it is also exciting to see your impact around the globe. I know that you have been an important voice on the Getting to Zero campaign and pushing UNAIDS and others to prioritize this effort, but when I was still at the White House and I visited Swaziland and learned about some of the work you are doing in Africa it is really inspiring.