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Bush AIDS policy director to take new post

From Suzanne Malveaux
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Scott Evertz, the director of the Office of National AIDS Policy and the first openly gay person nominated to an executive branch office by a Republican president, is being reassigned, a White House spokesman said Thursday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson personally asked Evertz to become his special adviser on global AIDS initiatives, specifically to work on President Bush's new AIDS program tackling mother-to-child transmission, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

McClellan dismissed a report suggesting Evertz was being reassigned because conservatives were put off by his public statements supporting condom use. He said Evertz was selected for the job because he and Thompson have known each other since the '80s, when they were involved in Wisconsin politics, and Thompson was confident Evertz would do well in the position.

White House officials planned to announce Evertz's replacement, Dr. Joseph O'Neill, Friday. O'Neill has been the acting head of the Health and Human Services office of AIDS and policy and is also gay. It is unclear who will succeed him at that post.

McClellan said he was unaware of O'Neill's position on condom use, but said the doctor was selected because he has treated AIDS patients since the '80s and has overseen the organization that supports the Ryan White Act, a $1.9 billion AIDS program.

Neither Evertz nor O'Neill could be reached for comment.


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