Trump administration terminates Obama-era HIV/AIDS council members

Two Atlantans were among the final 10 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS who were fired en masse by the Trump administration Wednesday through a form letter delivered by FedEx. Schoettes said the Trump administration "pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease". Fangerous that #Trump and Co. "I would personally be surprised if he even does replace these individuals with his own people", said Mark Leno.

But while President Barack Obama had terminated all Bush appointees to the council, this situation is different, said Maldonado, who was appointed by Obama and was to serve into next year. "Like any administration, they want their own people there".

She added that the Obama administration ended the appointments of members appointed by President George W. Bush "in order to bring in new voices", noting that the dismissed members could apply to serve on a new council to be convened in 2018.

Nonetheless, HIV and AIDS activists criticized the Trump administration.

Kaye Hayes, executive director of PACHA, affirmed the council members were terminated on Wednesday, but said there's more to the story.

PACHA was founded during the Clinton administration amid the AIDS" crisis peak in the "90s-over 500,000 AIDS cases were reported in 1995 alone-and was created to help presidents manage policy and research on HIV and AIDS.


Speaking to the Washington Post following the December removal of the remaining PACHA members, Schoettes alleged that loyalty to the president, not credentials, will likely be the driving factor in approving new nominations to the council, saying: "The only criteria for serving this president is loyalty".

The dismissals come after six members resigned in June, citing "a President who simply does not care", according to a Newsweek op-ed written by one member at the time.

Scott Schoettes, a senior attorney for Lambda Legal who resigned from the council in June, considers the firings "dangerous". "Additionally, it is quite unusual to take such action between Christmas and New Year's, when much of Washington is closed and their PACHA members are home celebrating the holidays with loved ones".

"I think there's no way to know why President Trump chose to do this at this time".

The Huffingon Post reported that as of September, Trump signed an executive order renewing PACHA for an additional year so the move to fire the current council without explanation seems brash. In the 2018 fiscal year budget Trump has sought huge cuts to programs including $150 million on HIV/AIDS at the Centers of Disease Control. 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.


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