This week, Trump fired all the last members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
Just now, the White House has decided to dismiss these members through a form letter. This might’ve been Trump deciding they were no longer of use after around half-dozen members quit because of Trump’s position on health policies.
Ever since 1995, PACHA would assist the White House on matters regarding HIV/AIDS policies. The National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan working to help the issue, was constantly being shaped by unpaid members who offered advice.
Scott Schoettes, a LGBT rights lawyer of Lambda Legal, said that helpers consisted of “doctors, members of industry, members of the community and, very importantly, people living with HIV.” He continued, “Without it, you lose the community voice in policy-making.”
Schoettes had written in a Newsweek column that “the Trump Administration has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/Aids epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and, most concerning, pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against disease.”
Schoettes was one of the members who quit in June and told the Washington Post, “We tried to stick it out. The fact is you’re dealing with a public health issue. It’s not a partisan at all.”
Many believe that it was clear that the members of council weren’t going to last through the Trump administration. During the Clinton administration, the Office of National AIDS Policy was established in 1993, but it hasn’t had a director since Trump.
Schoettes commented that the “writing was on the wall” and added that the “tipping point for me was the president’s approach to the Affordable Care Act. It is of great importance for people living with HIV like myself.”
It was reported that letters were sent without warning through FedEx.
Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiologist who works on HIV testing programs, said that the letter “thanked me for my past service and said that my appointment was terminated, effective immediately.”
Gabriel Maldonado, the chief executive of the group TruEvolution, LGBT and HIV/AIDS centered, suggested that “like any administration, they want their own people there.”
Trump has posted a call for new council-members that will be active throughout 2019. Nominations went out Dec. 1 and will be closed January 2.
Sullivan wishes that they will “continue to engage around the issues that the previous PACHA brought up,” but others like Schoettes don’t believe Trump will present much.
He argued that “the only criteria for serving this president is loyalty” and he doesn’t think Trump recognizes the real problem at hand.