December 30, 2017 | Health Matters

Trump fires entire HIV/AIDS Advisory Council

TrumpIn a bold and sudden move, Donald Trump fired the members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Wednesday. He did it the old-fashioned way, with a letter delivered by FedEx. (We're surprised he didn't just tweet it!)
 
PACHA was a commission formed by President Bill Clinton in 1995. It was established to provide recommendations on the US government's response to the AIDS epidemic.
 
In June, the Council was shaken when six of its members resigned. They wrote an open letter, published in Newsweek, which called out the Trump White House for promoting legislation that could actually harm people living with HIV.
 
They wrote: "While many members of the public are unaware of the significant impact that HIV/AIDS continues to have in many communities— or that only 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are able to access the life-saving medications that have been available for more than 20 years—it is not acceptable for the U.S. President to be unaware of these realities, to set up a government that deprioritizes fighting the epidemic and its causes, or to implement policies and support legislation that will reverse the gains made in recent years."
 
Scott A. Schoettes, one of the members of the panel who resigned in June, took to social media to reveal that the remaining 10 Council members had been shown the door.
 
“Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by [Trump]. No respect for their service,” Schoettes tweeted. “Dangerous that [Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed."
 
Some think Trump is once again lashing out at anything touched by his predecessor Barak Obama. The board was comprised of people picked by him.
 
“Like any administration, they want their own people there," Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution, suggested. She was one of the people fired this week. "Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
 
And to be fair, Obama eliminated all of George W. Bush’s appointees when he took office. However, where Obama seemed to let the Council educate the White House on best practices, Trump seemed to bristle at anything considered pushback against his own initiatives.
 
Schoettes said he fears that the most knowledgeable people will be reluctant to accept a job where their own expertise is second-guessed.
 
“The only criteria for serving this president is loyalty,” he said. “From the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to this body, to the FBI, there is a real problem this president has with dialogue or dissent.”

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