AIDS United salutes Harold Phillips upon his departure from ONAP

Harold Phillips, who was appointed by the White House in 2021 to lead the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), announced he will step down from the position, effective Jan 19, 2024.  

“On behalf of myself and all of us at AIDS United, we thank Harold for his tireless efforts and dedication to ending to the HIV epidemic in the United States,” AIDS United CEO Jesse Milan Jr. says.  “Harold combined his lived experience as a Black gay man living with HIV and his decades of professional public health work to guide and enhance our National HIV/AIDS Strategy.”

Milan, who has known Phillips for many years, continues: “Under his leadership, we have seen tremendous progress in the efforts from our federal partners to meet our national goal of ending the HIV epidemic by 2030. Harold has been an excellent spokesperson for the Biden-Harris administration’s work and a cornerstone in our nation’s health, reminding all of us that such things are possible when we all come together to make it happen. He has inspired people living with and vulnerable to HIV and people working in the HIV field with his passion, humility, dedication and brilliance. We thank him mightily and wish him great luck on his future endeavors.”  

Harold Phillips and Jesse Milan Jr.

Before leading the Office of National AIDS Policy as Director, Phillips worked as the Senior HIV Advisor and Chief Operating Officer for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative (EHE) and advised on the “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America” initiative, with the established goal aiming to bring down HIV rates by 75% by 2025 and 90% by 2030. Phillips’ priorities in combating the HIV epidemic included increasing access to testing and PrEP and bringing a larger focus on equity at a time where increasing rates of HIV have a stark difference depending on race 

His appointment and leadership reflected the Biden administration’s focus in combating the AIDS epidemic and ensuring the EHE goals can be met: An example would be the administration’s request for $670 million from Congress in HIV-related funding, a notable $267 million increase in from current levels. The recent National HIV/AIDS Strategy 2023 Interim Action Report, released Dec 1, 2023, reflects the efforts from federal agencies and Office of National AIDS Policy in the work to end the epidemic at current levels, showing both remarkable progress and challenges to be met. Leadership, such as the kind Phillps brought, is key in making these goals a reality.  

In Phillips’ own statement within the 2023 Interim Action Report cited above, he notes that despite our progress, visible success “serves as an ongoing call to action, highlighting the good work done by federal and community organizations to energize and invigorate our collective national work to end the HIV epidemic and to ensure that no population or region is left behind.”  

Phillips’ work prior to ONAP included serving as a Director in HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau that administers the Ryan White Program. There he led programs including the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), the Special Projects of National Significance (SPNS) program, and the AIDS Education and Training Centers (AETC) program.  

AIDS United, as an organization, continues our mission with such a statement as our backbone.