Trump reportedly fires entire HIV/AIDS council without warning

30 December, 2017, 03:38 | Author: Lynne Higgins
  • The White House was adorned with a red ribbon

President Donald Trump has fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, according to reports from Newsweek.

The council's executive director, Kaye Hayes, confirmed in a statement that all remaining council members had received letters Wednesday "informing them that the administration was terminating their appointments".

"It is a unsafe 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. Right now, many of us are people of color and members of the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV.

Cecilia Chung, an Obama-era appointee who left voluntarily after her term expired earlier this year, echoed these concerns.

Almost a year into Trump's presidency, the White House has yet to appoint a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. Medications have advanced since then, making HIV a much more manageable diagnosis for many Americans.

The terminations come after six members of the council resigned this summer, saying that Trump doesn't care about HIV.

"No respect for their service", Scott Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV scientist, tweeted in response to news that the remaining members had been booted. "Dangerous that #Trump and Co". He took to Twitter to lambaste the president's decision, accusing it of being part of a strategy to bring back "abstinence-only" sex education, among other "harmful policies".

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The administration gave no reason for the firing.

Trump's termination of council members isn't a first time an administration cleaned house on PACHA.

Many have noted Trump's predicliction for undoing Obama's policies. "And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration". And the president's 2018 budget proposes massive cuts to important HIV/AIDS programs. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.

Maldonado said he represented a younger demographic on PACHA as the only member under the age of 30, which he said is where the majority of new HIV infections are occurring, and as a young, black gay man.

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. "To lose this body's expertise and counsel at the White House on HIV issues threatens to unravel years of progress and our collective efforts to end HIV within our lifetimes".

She did not address when the administration might begin to make new appointments to the council, which can number up to 25 members.

Advocates have been critical of the administration's approach to HIV/AIDS issues.

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