Since it's creation in 1989 by Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, the office of City AIDS Coordinator has been more than ceremonial. The first AIDS Coordinator, the late Dave Johnson, was a person with AIDS who ran Being Alive, testified before Congress and helped create the City's AIDS Policy. The second AIDS Coordinator, HIV-positive Phill Wilson, spoke brilliantly before the LA City Council to counter irresponsibly inaccurate information touted by LA City Councilmember Nate Holden, who thought AIDS was an airborne disease.
The third AIDS Coordinator, the late Ferd Egan, was a former ACT UP activist who in 1993 persuaded Republican LA Mayor Richard Riordan that the city needed to endorse needle exchange programs as part of a comprehensive response to AIDS. Riordan declared a "state of emergency" to circumvent state law. Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block and LAPD Chief Bernie Parks both issued department-wide memos telling officers to stop busting addicts at needle exchange program stops. I have no idea who served as the forth coordinator but for the past eight years, the position has been held by the ubiquitous and politically-aware Stephen Simon, who expanded partnerships with other health organizations such as St. Johns Health and Wellness Centers and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.
New LA City AIDS Coordinator Ricki Rosales (Photo courtesy Ricki Rosales)
On July 1, Ricki Rosales assumed the position, having served as co-chair of the LA County HIV Prevention Planning Committee. He is expected to expand prevention and awareness services into underserved areas.
Here's the press release about his appointment:
City's 6th AIDS Coordinator Expected to Increase Prevention Efforts and Address High Rates of infection in Underserved Populations
Los Angeles - Ricki Rosales has been named as the City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator, effective July 1, 2012. Rosales, who previously served as the office's head of prevention, enters his new leadership role with the strong political and community support. He is presently Co-Chair of the Los Angeles County HIV Prevention Planning Committee (PPC).
"Ricki has demonstrated a profound commitment to the city's avid fight against the disease," stated Stephen David Simon, who served as AIDS Coordinator from November 2003 through January 2012. "He's shown immense dedication to developing and improving the countywide comprehensive HIV prevention plan and is one of only a handful of people ready to take on the AIDS Coordinator's role on day one."
Simon continues to serve on Los Angeles County HIV Commission and is now a Principal at the Washington DC-based public policy firm The Raben Group, supporting political, philanthropic and social justice organizations.
Los Angeles has been one of the leading cities calling for widespread testing of its residents. In 2007, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa launched the City's HIV Testing Initiative, a 3-year program to increase the awareness and accessibility of routine, voluntary HIV screening. Such a policy is now central to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Housed within the City's Department on Disability, Rosales will oversee the implementation of HIV/AIDS policies and programs. The AIDS Coordinator's Office (ACO) addresses a broad range of health policy issues, providing guidance for our elected officials on best practices and innovative policy options. Rosales co-authored the study "Adapting HIV Prevention Evidence-based Interventions in Practice Settings."
Mayor Tom Bradley created the City of Los Angeles AIDS Coordinator's Office in 1989. The next year the ACO spearheaded the development of a comprehensive City AIDS Policy, which served as a blueprint for the City's multi-pronged effort to combat AIDS and quickly became a national model because of its comprehensiveness. Since then, the ACO has undertaken programs addressing syringe exchange, special needs studies, return-to-work assistance, and low-income housing.