- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 23, 2002

Former Oklahoma congressman Tom Coburn soon will be named co-chairman of a presidential council on AIDS, say sources on Capitol Hill.

Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, Health and Human Services Department secretary in the first Bush administration, will be the other chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).

The Bush administration is expected to formally announce the 35-member panel in the near future. The council was created in 1995 by the Clinton administration to offer recommendations to the White House and federal agencies on HIV/AIDS programs, policies, research, and prevention and treatment.

Dr. Coburn, a practicing obstetrician who left Congress in 2000 in keeping with his promise to serve only three terms, is known for his frequent criticism of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention programs. He is also an unabashed supporter of sexual abstinence outside marriage and used to present graphic slide shows on sexually transmitted diseases as a way to illustrate the perils of casual sex.

Dr. Coburn was recommended for PACHA leadership by former colleagues in Congress. For instance, Rep. Dave Weldon, Florida Republican, said in a letter to the White House that Dr. Coburn "is a man of vision and passion who is personally committed to ending HIV/AIDS."

Word of the pending appointments was welcomed by some AIDS activists.

"Doctor Coburn has maintained a productive working relationship with many HIV/AIDS activists," said Wayne Turner, coordinator of Act Up in Washington. Dr. Coburn "championed reform efforts" in the Ryan White Care Act, including making sure that HIV-positive and AIDS patients are included on AIDS planning councils, Mr. Turner said.

In November, HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson named Patricia Funderburk Ware as executive director of PACHA. New names scheduled to be added to the council include Dr. Joe McIlhaney, director of the Medical Institute in Austin, Texas; Mary Fisher, an AIDS activist from Palm Beach, Fla.; Joel Hastings of the Lifelong AIDS Alliance in Seattle; Rashida Jolley, Miss District of Columbia 2000 and a speaker with the Project Reality abstinence education group; and Nathan Nickerson of Portland, Maine, who specializes in public health issues and the homeless.

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