WASHINGTON - Dr. Thomas Frieden, the newly nominated director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is likely to take on a few public health fights.
Frieden, who is now New York City's health commissioner, has been best known for his expertise on diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis. His training was in infectious diseases but he has expanded his repertoire to tackle chronic diseases that can be blamed on smoking, obesity and poor diet.
Here are some possible consequences of his appointment to head the agency that deals with public health issues from smoking to the spread of disease. [nN15549263].
* Many AIDS advocates will be delighted. Frieden will be likely to further focus attention on the ongoing epidemic of the virus in the United States, which is spreading among minorities, gay and bisexual men and many women. Frieden has pressed more routine testing for the virus as a first step to controlling it.
* He will likely continue his fight against tobacco. Frieden helped New York institute smoking bans, strongly fought by the restaurant industry. He has worked to raise tobacco taxes, which public health advocates agree can lower smoking rates.
* Frieden's health department was also behind rules requiring restaurants to publicly post information on the calories in their meals, a move aimed at tackling obesity, heart disease and other ills blamed on fat- and sugar-laden food.
* Frieden will likely follow the lead of former CDC director Dr. Julie Gerberding, who became a very visible spokeswoman for the agency. Some at the agency wondered how she could run its many different arms while appearing frequently before Congress, on television and at meetings about health. He is a former CDC epidemiologist and will not be seen as an outsider coming in. The Epidemic Intelligence Service is the heart of the CDC.