History of the Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA)

The Task Force on Psychology and AIDS was established by the Board of Directors in June 1987, on the recommendation of the Board of Ethical Responsibility for Psychology (BSERP). The Task Force fulfilled its original charge and in November 1989 submitted a Final Report to the Board of Directors, noting its accomplishments related to science, practice, public interest, education and training, publications, advocacy, and Association Issues.

In August 1990, the Board of Directors recommended the establishment of the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS to be funded in the amount of $5,000 from the 1990 Council contingency fund. The Committee shall consist of six members, shall be funded for a three-year period, and shall report to the Council through the Board of Directors.

The Task Force was created as a response to the AIDS crisis, but now the epidemic has evolved from an immediate crisis to an enduring problem that will challenge our society for the foreseeable future. The initial goal of the Task Force was to assess the current situation and to develop organizational responses to AIDS on behalf of APA. The goal for the office on AIDS now is to sustain psychology's constructive efforts in the face of the severe health and mental health problems associated with HIV Infection and disease. In that light, the Association through its Office on AIDS needs policy oversight and guidance by persons who have substantial expertise in AIDS and who represent the interests of the diverse populations affected by the disease.

In its 1989 Final Report, the Task Force on Psychology and AIDS recommended that its work continue through establishment of a new oversight group, the Ad Hoc Committee on Psychology and AIDS (COPA). Such a committee should continue to address the original Task Force charge while also:

a) providing policy direction and oversight for current APA activities related to AIDS;

b) advising APA staff and maintaining liaison with governance groups on AIDS issues; and

c) formulating new APA Initiatives to meet the continually changing challenges posed by the epidemic.

COPA should consist of six members to be appointed by the Board of Directors to serve a three-year term. Members should be selected on the basis of their expertise and demonstrated commitment to AIDS Issues, and their work should encompass the perspectives of science, practice, public interest, communications, and education and training. COPA members should represent the communities and populations most affected by the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Given the changing nature of the HIV epidemic, appropriate expertise representing the interests of women, children, ethnic minorities, and IV drug users should be considered in making appointments to the group.