Trump just completely wiped out the AIDS Council in an entirely unprofessional manner.
Over the past year, HIV/AIDS activists have been hypercritical of the Trump White House’s approach to their cause. Trump’s 2018 fiscal year budget outlines massive cuts to programs including $150 million on HIV/AIDS at the Centers for Disease Control and an additional $1 billion in cuts to global programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
For the first time since Bill Clinton created the position in 1993, Trump has yet to appoint an HIV/AIDS chief during his nearly one year in office.
In June, six Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) members resigned in an open letter in Newsweek, saying that the Trump White House was promoting legislation that would harm people living with HIV.
Scott A. Schoettes wrote:
“Five of my colleagues and I resigned this week from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
“As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.
“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”
What’s Happening Now:
On Wednesday, President Trump reportedly fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in a letter delivered by FedEx without any explanation.
The shocking dismissal marks an all-time low in the administration’s relations with the council.
One of the members of the advisory panel who resigned over the summer, Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist Scott A. Schoettes, said that the remaining council members were fired for calling President Trump and Vice President Pence “dangerous.”
“Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service,” Schoettes wrote in a tweet. “Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed,” he added.
Knowledgeable sources revealed that the council members were fired despite having more time on their appointments.
CEO of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution Gabriel Maldonado and a remaining member or PACHA believe that although the reason for the mass dismissal remains unclear, it may stem from Trump’s desire to clear out appointments made by predecessor Barack Obama.
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado said. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
Washington-based HIV awareness and advocacy organization Impulse Group DC is concerned that the loss of the expertise the council provided threatens to unravel years of progress and effort to end HIV.
Sources suspect the charter for PACHA will be re-written with an approach focused on abstinence and religious, non-evidence based public health.
“Now is not the time for complacency,” President of Impulse Devin Barrington-Ward declared. “Every organization serving people living with HIV and fighting to end this epidemic must galvanize their networks of clients, staff, and volunteers to resist and fight back against these dangerous HIV policy decisions,” he added.