President Trump fires council advising on HIV/AIDS

Dec 31, 2017, 00:31
President Trump fires council advising on HIV/AIDS

Updated | President Donald Trump fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Wednesday, reportedly informing them without explanation with a letter delivered by FedEx.

The Trump administration has terminated the appointments of the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, a statement from the council's executive director confirmed this week. "Dangerous that #Trump and Co". "(Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed", Schoettes wrote, adding the hashtags "#WeObject" and "#Resist".

The council, whose members are not paid, has advised the White House on HIV/AIDS policies for more than two decades, specifically offering recommendations on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan responding to the epidemic. Other criticisms have included Trump's call for cuts to HIV funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his failure to mention the specific risk the disease poses to members of the LGBTQ community on both National HIV Testing Day and on World AIDS Day. "I would personally be surprised if he even does replace these individuals with his own people", said Mark Leno.

PACHA will continue with different members, executive director Kaye Hayes said in a statement, and the White House will now begin the task of making up to 25 new appointments. "Like any administration, they want their own people there". 'Many of us were Obama appointees.

The firing of the remaining board members provides further evidence that the Trump administration isn't interested in the issue.

The advisory council was created back in 1995, to advise the secretary of Health and Human Services, in creating programs and policies pertaining to the HIV epidemic.

But Sullivan and Schoettes said that previous administrations had allowed members to serve full terms before appointing replacements. A call for new council member nominations went out via a December 1 notice posted on the federal register.

The group includes "doctors, members of industry, members of the community and, very importantly, people living with HIV", Scott Schoettes, a lawyer with the LGBT rights organization Lambda Legal, told The Post. "Additionally, it is quite unusual to take such action between Christmas and New Year's, when much of Washington is closed and their PACHA members are home celebrating the holidays with loved ones".

He told The Washington Post Friday, "The tipping point for me was the president's approach to the Affordable Care Act", which he said "is of great importance for people living with HIV like myself".

But in the meantime, an estimated 1.2 million people have HIV/AIDS in the United States, with the brunt of the epidemic hitting the African American community, and especially, young, black, gay men, where the majority of new HIV infections are occurring.

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