Daskalakis, the CDC’s unconventional director of HIV prevention efforts,
enters his new role during the most challenging health crisis in decades.
If Dr. Demetre Daskalakis is harboring anxieties over taking a new national health position in the middle of two global pandemics, it doesn’t show.
Formerly the deputy commissioner for the Division of Disease Control at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
Daskalakis was hired as director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late last year.
His first weeks on the job coincided with a frightening transition of presidential leadership, an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol,
and devastating numbers of COVID deaths in the nation — typically between 2,000 and 4,000 fatalities a day.
But Daskalakis, one of the most visible government officials overseeing HIV policy,
does not sound panicked or overwhelmed in a recent conversation with Plus.
“It’s a great time to land,” Daskalakis says. “We’re at a crossroads of strategy and implementation.
Leading CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention is my dream job. I believe that everything I’ve done in my career has been leading me to this role.”
Daskalakis is indeed perfect for the job of overseeing HIV prevention efforts at the CDC,
officials from the government agency noted when announcing his hiring.
Daskalakis was central in leading many HIV and STD programs in the nation’s largest city,
including the Ending the Epidemic program, credited with bringing HIV cases to historic lows.