Trump terminates HIV/AIDS advisory panel members as he seeks replacements

Desiree Steele
December 30, 2017

On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly sent termination letters via FedEx to all 16 remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), a group that makes recommendations about the U.S. government's response to the HIV epidemic.

In June, six members of the council resigned in protest, citing the Trump administration's lack of action on combating the disease.

PACHA, founded in 1995, provides advice to the administration regarding policies and research on the treatment, prevention and curing of HIV and AIDS.

Scott A. Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and one of the members of the advisory panel who resigned over the summer, tweeted yesterday that the remaining council members had been fired for calling President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence "dangerous".

'I can only speculate, like any administration, they want their own people there, ' said Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution. "Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on almost four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council". "The Obama Administration dismissed the George W. Bush Administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices", she said.

In September, Trump signed an executive order that renewed PACHA along with 31 other presidential bodies for an additional year.

"So far we have not seen the administration actively reach out to any advocates around HIV policy at all", she said.

"It is a risky thing when the administration is eliminating people whose views are based in science and community experience", HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal in an interview with GPB. It also mentioned the 1.1 million Americans now living with HIV. He also noted that some people on the board were sworn back in as members earlier this year when their initial terms expired.

The ONE Campaign, which endeavors to fight diseases like HIV/AIDS, published a study in November that said the White House's $800 million proposed cuts to HIV/AIDS efforts would lead to "the first global increase in new HIV infections since 1995, with almost 200,000 additional HIV infections in the first year".

"The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration's approach was", Maldonado said. "It is of great importance for people living with HIV like myself".

Since the resignations in June, Trump has made public statements on HIV/AIDS consisting of proclamations on National HIV Testing Day and World AIDS Day.

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request to comment Thursday evening on the terminations.

The decision by an administrator to clear house at PACHA is not unprecedented.

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