Dybul will administer a program committed to spending $15 billion
over five years for treatment, prevention and care
WASHINGTON Mark R. Dybul, an openly gay physician who helped President George W. Bush develop his worldwide program to counter HIV/AIDS, was sworn in Oct. 10 as the U.S. global AIDS coordinator in an upbeat ceremony at the State Department.
Dybul is the third openly gay person to be the country’s global AIDS coordinator.
“We are beginning to turn the tide against the epidemic,” the former researcher said during the swearing-in ceremony.
Dybul will administer a program in which the United States is committed to spend $15 billion over five years for treatment, prevention and care.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, presiding at the ceremony, said the Bush program is “the single largest international initiative by any country for any disease.”
“The fight to eradicate AIDS is really one of the great moral callings of our time,” Rice said.
“Mark is the right person to carry on this great program and this great cause.”
First Lady Laura Bush attended the swearing-in ceremony, saying that she has seen the results of Dybul’s work while visiting projects of the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) around the world, “from a program in Russia that helps HIV-positive children lead healthy lives, to South Africa’s Mothers to Mothers-to-Be program, which helps HIV-positive pregnant women deliver babies free of HIV.”
“What distinguishes Dr. Dybul is his creativity,” Mrs. Bush added. “For PEPFAR to succeed, its resources must be used wisely. And from the initiative’s very beginning, Mark’s innovation has helped widen PEPFAR’s reach.”
Rice introduced the First Lady and members of Dybul’s family, including his partner, Jayson Claire, who held the Bible for the oath-taking.
The secretary of state earned praise in the LGBT community for pointing out not only Claire, but Claire’s mother, who she introduced as Dybul’s mother-in-law.
Dybul, 43, has served as acting global AIDS coordinator since March and before that was the deputy and assistant coordinator. He helped Bush formulate the program while working at the Department of Health and Human Services.
James Hormel became the first openly gay American ambassador in 1999. President Bill Clinton sidestepped opposition from social conservatives led by Jesse Helms in the Senate by making a “recess” appointment that allowed Hormel to serve as ambassador to Luxembourg.
President Bush appointed career diplomat Michael Guest as ambassador to Romania in 2001, with no opposition from the Senate. Dybul likewise breezed through the Senate confirmation process earlier this summer.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 20, 2006.