Trump Fires Entire White House HIV/AIDS Council
In a move in line with his other anti-LGBTQ policy positions and actions, Donald Trump just fired all remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) without explanation. The firing follows the resignation of six other members earlier this year in protest of Trump’s handling of the battle against HIV/AIDS.
The remaining 16 members were notified this Wednesday of their termination via FedEx letter from the White House.
Speaking to The Washington Blade, PACHA adviser Gabriel Maldonado confirmed the firings saying the “explanation is still unclear.”
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado told the Washington Blade. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
“I was co-chair of the disparities committee, so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issuing of diverse communities, specifically looking at the impacts of the LGBT community, namely, the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women. And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration.”
Scott Schoettes – one of the six members who resigned in June – offered critical words in a statement on Twitter:
Remaining #HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed. #WeObject #PACHA6 #Resist
— Scott A. Schoettes (@PozAdvocate) December 28, 2017
The curious part of the unexpected firings is the fact that several members just had their terms extended through 2018 meaning the decision clearly had intent behind it outside of routine political appointments at the end of previous administration appointments’ terms.
It also follows a series of decisions and inaction demonstrating a distinct lack of direction in the current administration’s fight against HIV/AIDS. We wrote in June:
In what may be his first statement this month relating to any LGBTQ-adjacent issue, Donald Trump issued a statement today as a part of National HIV Testing Day. That statement not only omitted LGBTQ people, but labeled HIV+ persons as “carriers” of the disease. The statement doesn’t come as a surprise since he’s on schedule to potentially bring back the AIDS epidemic with his policies, positions and cuts to vital health programs that serve communities most profoundly affected by HIV.
This adds to his failure to bring back and staff the the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). It adds to the fact that he doesn’t have a strategy to fight the epidemic. It’s one of the driving reasons behind six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) stepping down recently arguing Trump doesn’t care about fighting the AIDS epidemic.
It should be noted that the White House official ONAP page is still blank. (You can view what was on it previously by viewing the Obama administration archive as it was captured on January 20, 2017.)
For the uninitiated, ONAP is a vital tool in the fight to end HIV/AIDS. ONAP worked ardently to educate the public while reducing the overall number of new HIV infections nationally. Additionally, the office:
…also coordinates with the National Security Council and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and works with international bodies to ensure that America’s response to the global pandemic is fully integrated with other prevention, care, and treatment efforts around the world. Through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative, the U.S. has made enormous progress in responding to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, working with countries heavily impacted by HIV/AIDS to help expand access to treatment, care, and prevention.
The shuttering of ONAP accompanies the removal (and continued absence) of HIV/AIDS data and studies unconnected to the Obama administration on government websites. We reported earlier this year:
Take the Department of Labor’s report on Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights (archived version here). This is a report whose information would not change depending on who sits in the White House. Despite that, the data is still missing as of today.
Another important continued omission is information for people living with disabilities. (Again, here’s the Obama archive.) Not only does the information on disabilities remain the same from administration to administration, the data contained on the now-archived page (and missing from the Trump White House page) delineates the laws and regulations that protect the approximately 53 million Americans with disabilities.
That data is all still missing as the nation closes in on the anniversary of Trump’s inauguration.
While the White House hasn’t responded to requests for comment on the firings, the Washington Blade noted, “New appointments may be coming soon. The Washington Blade reported in October gay Republicans familiar with HIV/AIDS issues and LGBT people have been among those contacted by a Trump administration official for possible appointments to PACHA.”
- Trump’s Digital Transition Should Concern Everyone
- 100 Days of Trump: Where Are Key WhiteHouse.Gov Pages?
- Trump: Making The AIDS Epidemic Great Again
- “HIV Carriers”: Trump’s National HIV Testing Day Statement