Miller School Internist Invited to Serve on Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
The council works with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote the treatment, prevention and cure of HIV disease.
Hansel Tookes, M.D. ’14, M.P.H., associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was sworn in Wednesday, September 20, to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
“It is an honor to advise the administration on issues around HIV care,” said Dr. Tookes, who will also join the board of the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (HIVMA/IDSA) this fall. “We have the knowledge and the tools to end the HIV epidemic in urban, rural and suburban communities across the country.”
PACHA provides advice, information and recommendations to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on programs, policies and research to promote the treatment, prevention and cure of HIV disease. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra invited Dr. Tookes to take on the national advisory role. Dr. Tookes was sworn in by Admiral Rachel L. Levine, the 17th assistant secretary for health at HHS, and is attending PACHA’s meeting in Charleston, West Virginia.
“The Presidential Advisory Council will be hearing from and visiting with community organizations and civic leaders to address the HIV epidemic,” he said.
Harm Reduction in HIV Care
Dr. Tookes is a recognized leader in developing a harm-reduction approach to bring HIV treatment and prevention services to communities left behind, including homeless individuals and people who inject drugs (PWID).
“It is vital to treat these individuals with dignity and respect and listen to their ideas, as they are experts in their own personal health,” he said.
In June 2022, Dr. Tookes gave a presentation on the Miller School’s innovative Comprehensive Tele-Harm Reduction program to Harold J. Phillips, M.R.P., director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, during a visit to Miami. He outlined the success of the Miami IDEA Exchange, a syringe service program designed to reduce hospitalizations and deaths for individuals with substance use disorders who inject drugs.
“We are very fortunate to have support from our university, county and state for our program,” Dr. Tookes said.
Joining the HIVMA Board
On October 10, Dr. Tookes will formally join the HIVMA Board of Directors at its annual meeting in Boston, beginning a three-year term through 2026.
“HIVMA is an advocacy organization of clinicians, researchers and pharmacists who are committed to ending the HIV epidemic,” he said. “The goal is to advance innovative approaches to serving this population, advocate for changes in policy and disseminate findings to the medical community.”
Dr. Tookes has been an active member of the organization since 2021, serving on the Health Care Access and Primary Care Guidance work groups. At the annual meeting, he will be giving a presentation on tele-harm reduction and will serve on a panel titled “Ending the HIV Epidemic.”
“This will be a great opportunity to share actionable insights with our colleagues,” he said. “It’s an exciting time to be an advocate for communities left behind.”