Six Top Experts Resigned From Trump’s HIV/AIDS Advisory Council
By Alexis Alex
On June 16, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned as a result of frustration with Trump’s proposed polices and lack of attention. PACHA was founded in 1995 under the Clinton administration to provide guidance to the White House on HIV treatment and prevention when the epidemic began to spread heavily in the US. Overall, PACHA’s job is to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services on how to effectively implement a national strategy for HIV/AIDS regarding programs, policies, research for treatment for prevention and cure, and how to provide services to persons living with HIV and AIDS. The council is compromised 25 seats, although only 21 were filled before the six members decided to leave, now the council is down to 15.
Scott Schoettes, one of the members who resigned, wrote in a statement why he and his colleagues had to leave, "We cannot ignore the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic, or the needs of people living with HIV, seriously," Schoettes was appointed to the council during the Obama administration and expressed how disappointed he and him colleagues are about the actions of the Trump administration.
Here are the three deadly punches the Trump administration delivered that sent the council members out the door:
First, on inauguration day, the Office of AIDS Policy website was shut down. This move seems like a tactic to eliminate the Trump administration’s connection to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This sent the first message to the PACHA council that HIV/AIDS is not a priority to the administration. The website has still has not been replaced.
Second, not only has the Office of AIDS Policy website been taken down, but Trump has not appointed anyone to the director position of the Office of AIDS Policy since it has been vacant. Singed no on working with experts on discussing strategies and implementing policies. Schoettes explains, "This means no one is tasked with regularly bringing salient issues regarding this ongoing public health crisis to the attention of the President and his closest advisers,"
Lastly, the GOP’s proposed healthcare plan was the gut punch. The current draft of the plan sets out to eliminate protection for people with pre – existing conditions, HIV/AIDS being one of them. The bill also rolls back on Medicaid, which covers over 40% of people who receive medical care for HIV, according to CNN. This was a last straw for the council members because taking away healthcare is a direct attack on the HIV/AIDS community.
Schoettes believes that him and his colleagues will be more effective in fighting “from the outside” of the administration by joining HIV/AIDS protests groups and protesting the administration rather than working for it. Schoettes expressed him and his colleagues are ready to battle Trump and his administration head on. Let the games begin.