Trump Dismisses Last of Presidential HIV/AIDS Advisory Council

by Garry Watts December 31, 2017, 0:30
Trump Dismisses Last of Presidential HIV/AIDS Advisory Council

In a Fed-Ex letter, President Donald Trump has fired all remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) without any explanation.

Six of the members of the council, upset by White House actions on health policy, resigned in June. Patrick Sullivan, an Emory epidemiologist appointed to a four-year term in May 2016, argued that continuity of personnel was an important aspect of the council, providing both stability and fresh ideas: "It is important to have a rolling, transitioning body that crosses administrations that really has a set of diverse outlooks on the epidemic".

It should be noted that, during the Obama administration, nearly all of George W. Bush's appointees were terminated prior to new appointees being named.

The council has advised the White House on HIV-AIDS policies since 1995. Scott Schoettes, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a LGBT rights organization, was one of them. "I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018", he said.

Now, with the opioid epidemic continuing to rage, the number of those diagnosed with HIV and fighting AIDS may continue to surge, and it looks like there is no effective, concerted governmental effort to stem the tide. The body hasn't yet been formally wound down, but it remains to be seen whether Trump's advisers will appoint members.

In June, Schoettes penned an article for Newsweek in which he justified the resignations, accusing the president of not caring about people living with HIV.

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A notice on the Federal Register says the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking nominations for new council members. "I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, No. 1?" Globally, there are 37 million people estimated to be carrying the disease.

Trump has sought to make $150 million in cuts to HIV/AIDS programs in the 2018 fiscal year budget, as well as deep cuts to global projects to fight AIDS and other diseases, Newsweek reported. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.

"The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration's approach was", Maldonado said.

Most of Maldonado's work involves addressing the "disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women". ".I can only hope that my people - marginalized people - remember that we have been here before". "The tactics that we had are kind of obsolete, and now we need to craft new strategy to address the troubling and unsettling revelations, particularly around the silence and inaction that have taken place around HIV and AIDS".

New appointments may be coming soon.

Vice President Mike Pence, who has been running the administration behind the scenes as Trump continues his Twitter wars with the media, science, and fellow politicians, is vociferously anti-LGBT and has continuously shown resistance to combating HIV.

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