Published: Sat, December 30, 2017
Medical | By Jackie Banks

Trump reportedly fires entire HIV/AIDS council without warning

Trump reportedly fires entire HIV/AIDS council without warning

Updated | President Donald Trump fired the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Wednesday, reportedly informing them without explanation with a letter delivered by FedEx. Six members had resigned in June, protesting the Trump administration's lack of action regarding the disease.

One source with knowledge of PACHA said many council members were terminated even though additional time remained on their terms as advisers.

The terminations were effective immediately, the paper reported, citing epidemiologist Patrick Sullivan. Other Presidents, including Barack Obama, have cleared out most of their predecessor's appointees to make room for their own.

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

Scott Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and senior attorney for Lambda Legal, was one of the six who resigned in June over Trump's inaction on HIV/AIDS and said on Twitter the remaining members were fired. Right now, many of us are people of color and members of the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV.

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Sullivan, who's a professor at Emory University specializing in HIV research, did not explicitly criticize the administration's decision to fire him and his fellow panel members, adding that there are plenty of scientists who can fill his position as long as USA policy sticks to "well-established" and science-based research.

"If we do not ensure that USA leadership at the executive and legislative levels are informed by experience and expertise", they wrote, "real people will be hurt and some will even die". The Obama administration eliminated all of George W. Bush's appointees before making new appointments.

Trump's termination of council members isn't a first time an administration cleaned house on PACHA. "Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on almost four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council". The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.

Ben Plumley, Chief Executive Officer of Pangaea, an global HIV organization that works with funders and national governments to help at-risk populations, has said that if the US lets HIV go unchecked at home and overseas, it will destabilize each country's national security.

Advocates have been critical of the administration's approach to HIV/AIDS issues. "To lose this body's expertise and counsel at the White House on HIV issues threatens to unravel years of progress and our collective efforts to end HIV within our lifetimes".

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