Philip Chan, associate professor of medicine and behavioral and social sciences, was sworn in as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Sept. 20, according to a PACHA press release.
Chan and 12 other new members were selected for the council by Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra because of their “expertise in, or knowledge of, matters concerning HIV and AIDS,” the press release said. The council, composed of up to 35 members, “provides advice, information and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies and research to promote effective prevention, treatment and cure of HIV disease and AIDS,” the release continued.
“I was very excited to be named to PACHA,” Chan said in an interview with The Herald. “I got notified during the summer that I was likely going to be … nominated for the committee, and then it became official this past September.”
Chan, who specializes in infectious diseases at Brown, said “HIV has been both my passion and my specialty for the last 14 or 15 years.”
“One thing I like about infectious diseases in general is that many times you can cure people,” Chan said, adding that while HIV isn’t currently curable, “you can … take people that are super sick and essentially bring them back to having normal healthy lives.”
“Sometimes I feel like addressing HIV really means addressing the whole person and (also) a lot of these other social determinants of health,” Chan added. Those determinants include housing, substance use and mental health, he said.
In Rhode Island, Chan serves as consultant medical director for the rhode island department of health center for HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis epidemiology. He also opened the state’s only LGBTQ+ health clinic in 2020, alongside Professor of Medicine and Behavioral and Social Sciences Amy Nunn, The Herald previously reported.
“Working with Dr. Chan has been very rewarding,” Nunn wrote in an email to The Herald. “We have very complementary skill sets and I always learn a lot when we work together. He is a true and humble servant of the people and always inspires me.”
“He is always thinking about how public policy could be changed to best help vulnerable people,” she added. “Most importantly, he likes to listen to people in need. He then tries to help them.”
As he begins his role in PACHA, Chan says he aims to “try to do what's best to address the HIV epidemic here in the U.S.”
“What really drives me is that I want to make a positive difference in the community,” he said. “And that's why I like working so much in Rhode Island in general … being able to make a difference on the ground in the lives of my patients (and) in the lives of Rhode Islanders across the state.”