Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

Trump Fires HIV/AIDS Advisory Council With No Explanation

GettyImages-899046336 Trump Fires HIV/AIDS Council In Its Entirety By FedEx Letter, Report Claims
Steve Townsend | 30 December, 2017, 03:36

President Donald Trump has dismissed all 16 members fo the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS without giving an explanation.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has proposed massive budget cuts to programs created to help fight and eliminate HIV/AIDS.

"The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy", Scott Schoettes, a lawyer with the LGBT rights organisation Lambda Legal who had resigned this summer, told the Washington Post.

"Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes".

Ulysses Burley, a former Pacha member who left with Mr Schoettes in June, told The Independent that he had heard from other, Obama-era appointees who were suddenly dismissed this week.

Newsweek also reports that Obama fired all of the PACHA members appointed by his predecessor George W. Bush, meaning that Trump's move isn't unprecedented.

PACHA members have had problems with the way Trump runs the council since he took office.

"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.

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

"So far we have not seen the administration actively reach out to any advocates around HIV policy at all", she said. "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 President has also proposed massive budget cuts to HIV/AIDS programmes, including a $150m reduction in funding for such programmes at the Centers for Disease Control.

Impulse Group DC, a social and entertainment-based HIV awareness and advocacy group with particular focus on outreach to queer communities of color, sent out a press release heavily criticizing Trump's previous proposals to cut federal HIV programs, including the president's call to eliminate the Minority AIDS Initiative.

Maldonado noted the PACHA terminations are taking place at the year's end after the June resignations, which he said is "a little too coincidental".

Ben Plumley, Chief Executive Officer of Pangaea, an worldwide HIV organization that works with funders and national governments to help at-risk populations, has said that if the USA lets HIV go unchecked at home and overseas, it will destabilize each country's national security.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Hayes cast the decision as a normal one made by an administration seeking to appoint its own peoples to a presidential advisory committee. The Washington Blade reported in October gay Republicans familiar with HIV/AIDS issues and LGBT people have been among those contacted by a Trump administration official for possible appointments to PACHA.

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