Mayor David Briley has announced the appointment of the city’s first Ending the Epidemic Task Force and named Meharry Medical College President Dr. James Hildreth as chairman.
The task force is created in conjunction with the Office of the Mayor, the Metro Public Health Department and community stakeholders in response to the Ending the Epidemic summit held this past December and is dedicated to improving access to care and services for those living with HIV and expanding prevention strategies to eliminate future infections. The task force held its first meeting today.
“HIV/AIDS is an often hidden but devastating epidemic that is impacting far too many Nashvillians, but the end is truly in sight,” said Mayor Briley. “I look forward to working with the task force on its efforts to reduce stigma and ultimately eliminate what is a preventable disease. I’m grateful to all of these leaders for their commitment to serve.” There are currently over 4000 Nashvillians living with HIV.
Ending the Epidemic is a national movement and several cities and states have developed plans to end the HIV epidemic in their communities. A true end to HIV will not come until there is a cure, but new science and tools are now available to bend the trajectory of this disease to pre-epidemic levels. Nashville is participating in a cohort of other southern jurisdictions with assistance from receiving Treatment Action Group and the Southern AIDS Coalition.
“At Metro Public Health Department, we see ourselves as part of a care team with one patient – the city of Nashville. Through the Ending the Epidemic process, we are making a commitment to identifying the barriers to treatment and care and developing those interventions that will lead us on a path to End the HIV epidemic in our community once and for all,” said Dr. Paul.
The task force will serve as a high-level advisory body and oversee an inclusive, community-led planning process, which is expected to produce a plan before World AIDS Day on December 1. Recommendations are expected to include initiatives and action steps that will raise awareness, reduce stigma, improve care and support for people living with HIV, and focus on prevention efforts that have the potential to eliminate future infections.
“This is a critically important step for the public health community, and I am ready to get to work on efforts that will provide hope by changing the trajectory of this preventable disease that is hurting so many people,” Dr. Hildreth, who has worked tirelessly in the fight against HIV and AIDS for decades.
The following multi-sector stakeholders are appointed by Mayor Briley to the Ending the Epidemic Task Force:
Dr. James Hildreth, President, Meharry Medical College (Task Force Chair)
Dr. Bill Paul, Director, Metro Public Health Department
Dr. Carolyn Wester, Medical Director for HIV/AIDS/STD, Tennessee Department of Health
Dr. Stephen Raffanti, CMO, Comprehensive Care Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dr. Stephanie Bailey, Senior Associate, Dean of Public Health Practice, Meharry School of Public Health
Representative John Ray Clemmons, Tennessee General Assembly
Brian Haile, CEO, Neighborhood Health
Kevin Hartman, Owner, Nashville Pharmacy Services
Councilwoman Sharon Hurt, Acting Executive Director, Street Works
Joseph Interrante, CEO, Nashville CARES
Michele Johnson, Executive Director, Tennessee Justice Center
Julian Leggs, Community Advocate
Rev. Edwin Sanders, Senior Servant, Metropolitan Interdenominational Church
Tom Ward, Executive Director, Oasis Center