Outrage as Trump administration fires 16 members of president's AIDS advisory council

Aaron Brown
December 31, 2017

The Trump administration has fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, also known as PACHA. Risky that Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed, ' he tweeted.

All 15 members received a letter informing they that their appointments to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS had been cut off, according to a statement from the executive director of the council.

The group is created to include "doctors, members of industry, members of the community and, very importantly, people living with HIV", said Scott Schoettes, an attorney with the LGBT rights organization Lambda Legal.

Members of the council said they weren't given a reason for their removal, but acknowledge the fact many of them were Obama-Era appointees, and that administrations often want to appoint their own people. "I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018", he said.

"It is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in", Maldonado said.

Jim Driscoll, a Trump supporter who served on the council under President George W. Bush, defended the firings by saying they're "standard practice" for a new administration.

"The Trump administration's 2018 budget proposes cutting $800 million in America's bilateral HIV/AIDS programs", Gerson wrote.

Nicholas Carlisle, a council member and executive director of the Southern AIDS Coalition, agreed that it's not unprecedented for a new president to remove an entire council.

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PACHA, founded in 1995, provides advice to the administration regarding policies and research on the treatment, prevention and curing of HIV and AIDS.

A notice on the Federal Register says the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking nominations for new council members.

Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, wrote in Newsweek why he and five of his colleagues made a decision to leave the PACHA.

Six members of PACHA - which is made up of medical experts, HIV sufferers and members of the industry - had already quit the panel in June, protesting at the Trump administration's health policy.

Sullivan said he hoped that new members will "continue to engage around the issues that the previous PACHA brought up".

'Many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, ' Maldonado revealed. "Every organization serving people living with HIV and fighting to end this epidemic must galvanize their networks of clients, staff, and volunteers to resist and fight back against these risky HIV policy decisions", he added.

Although the number of new HIV infections in the U.S. fell% between 2010 and 2015, gay and bisexual men remain at the highest risk, along with other minority groups including blacks and Hispanics, according to figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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