American Public Health Association

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This article is about the organization APHA. For the computer protocol, see AppleTalk Address Resolution Protocol. For the American Paint Horse registry, see APHA (horse).
American public health association logo.jpg
Motto "For science. For action. For health."
Formation 1872
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Region served
Immediate Past President
Camara P. Jones, MD, PhD, MPH
Thomas Quade, MA, MPH
President Elect
Joseph Telfair, DrPH, MPH, MSW
Executive Director
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E)
Washington, D.C. office of the APHA.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) is a Washington, D.C.-based professional organization for public health professionals and allied professions primarily based in the United States. It however serves an international membership and is one of the largest public health professional organizations in the world. Founded in 1872 by a group of physicians, including Dr. Stephen Smith, Dr. Henry Hartshorne, APHA has more than 25,000 members worldwide.[1] The Associations defines itself as: "APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We Strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that influences federal policy, has a 140-plus year perspective and brings together members from all fields of public health." It defines its mission as: "Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status."[2]


The American Public Health Association (APHA) is composed of 31 member sections. These sections represent major public health disciplines or public health programs. These Sections allow members with shared interests to come together to develop scientific program content and policy papers in their areas of interest or fields of practice, and they provide for professional and social networking, career development and mentoring. Sections are the primary professional units of the Association and conduct activities that promote the mission and fulfill the goals of APHA. Sections create a variety of opportunities for member involvement, making the APHA experience richer for those who choose to interact with their primary Sections.[3]

These sections are:

Aging and Public Health International Health
Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs Law
Applied Public Health Statistics Maternal and Child Health
Chiropractic Health Care Medical Care
Community Health Planning and Policy Development Mental Health
Community Health Workers Occupational Health and Safety
Disability Oral Health
Environment Physical Activity
Epidemiology Podiatric Health
Ethics Population, Reproductive and Sexual Health
Food and Nutrition Public Health Education and Health Promotion
Health Administration Public Health Nursing
Health Informatics Information Technology Public Health Social Work
HIV/AIDS School Health Education and Services
Injury Control and Emergency Health Services Vision Care
Integrative, Complementary and Traditional Health Practices

Special Primary Interest Group[edit]

The American Public Health Association has two special primary interest groups. The American Public Health Association defines a Special Primary Interest Group, or SPIG, as an open group of self-selected APHA members sharing a common occupational discipline or program area interest and electing no primary Section affiliation. SPIGs were established as a member option in 1978.[4]

The Two SPIGS Are:

  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Public Health


In addition to Sections and SPIGS the American Public Health Association also makes cross-cutting Forums available to its members to join. A Forum is a membership unit composed of APHA members who are working together on a specific issue that is important to public health and:

  • crosses disciplinary and section or SPIG boundaries;
  • requires expertise that may reside in more than one section or SPIG; and
  • supports APHA's mission.[5]

Current forums include:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Cancer
  • Genomics
  • Human Rights
  • Trade and Health


A Caucus is a group of at least 15 APHA members or people who hold a particular position on an issue important to APHA. A Caucus is considered to be "in official relations" with APHA, rather than a regular component of the Association.[6]

The Association has two types of Caucuses. One type allows members to coalesce around shared characteristics that cannot be changed (i.e., ethnicity/race, gender, sexual orientation). Another type focuses on special interests, worksite issues and social justice issues.

  • Academic Public Health Caucus
  • American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus
  • Asian & Pacific Islander Caucus for Public Health
  • Black Caucus of Health Workers
  • Caucus on Homelessness
  • Caucus on Public Health and the Faith Community
  • Caucus on Refugee and Immigrant Health
  • Community-Based Public Health Caucus
  • Family Violence Prevention Caucus
  • Health Equity and Public Health Hospital Caucus
  • Latino Caucus
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus of Public Health Professionals
  • Men's Health Caucus
  • Peace Caucus
  • Socialist Caucus
  • Spirit of 1848 Caucus
  • Vietnam Caucus
  • Women’s Caucus


The accomplishments of public health leaders are recognized through an awards program. APHA presents its national awards during its annual meeting. The association gives out international, national, and local/state level awards. In addition to giving out organizational awards, many sections, forums, SPIGS, and Caucuses also give out awards.


The American Public Health Association publishes periodicals and more than 70 public health books. Several of these are the reference source for their specialty within public health practice. Some publication titles include:[7]

Additionally, they are an active partner in the release of America's Health Rankings; working with United Health Foundation and Partnership for Prevention.[8]

Annual Meeting[edit]

The APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition is the largest meeting of public health professionals in the world. The meeting draws more than 13,000 attendees, offers 700 booths of exhibits and features more than 1,000 scientific sessions. Presentations cover new and innovative research and trends in public health science and practice. The meeting rotates cities each year.

National Public Health Week[edit]

National Public Health Week is an observance organized annually by APHA during the first full week of April. The week’s activities are designed to highlight issues that are important to improving the public’s health.

Policy Statements[edit]

The American Public Health Association members develop policy statements on key public health topics, from obesity control to breastfeeding to control of infectious diseases to eliminating health disparities. Proposed policy statements only become official APHA policy statements after approval by the APHA Governing Council at the Annual Meeting.[9]

Our policy statements:

  • help shape APHA's position on legislation and regulations.
  • are used to write briefs and statements on many public health issues.
  • highlight the latest research on specific public health topics.
  • are the source of information for reference and resource information for the public, such as infographics, fact sheets and reports.


  1. ^ Morris, J. Cheston (1900). "Henry Hartshorne". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. American Philosophical Society. 39 (164): v. JSTOR 983785. 
  2. ^ "American Public Health Association". APHA. Retrieved 2013-08-04. 
  3. ^ "Member Sections". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  4. ^ "Special Primary Interest Groups". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  5. ^ "Forums". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  6. ^ "Caucuses". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  7. ^ "Publications & Periodicals". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 
  8. ^ America's Health Rankings
  9. ^ "Policy Statements". Retrieved 2016-11-24. 

External links[edit]