Trump Fires All Members Of HIV/AIDS Council

Gage Skidmore  Flickr

President Donald Trump fired the remaining members of the White House's advisory council on HIV/AIDS on Wednesday. No explanation was given by the president regarding their terminations, although some expect the firings are politically motivated. Some 25 members can be commissioned for the council, also known as "PACHA", but as November only 10 members were listed on the council's website.

"I knew that the people that remained were speaking their truth, and I've got a feeling that was not appreciated", he said.

Obama similarly cleared out George W. Bush's PACHA appointees upon taking office, but with the mission of revamping the council to take on a more active role after it was largely sidelined by Bush.

Cecilia Chung, an Obama-era appointee who left voluntarily after her term expired earlier this year, echoed these concerns.

Just under a year into his first term, Trump has yet to appoint an HIV/AIDS chief, the first time since Bill Clinton created the position in 1993 that a president has failed to do so.

Scott Schoettes, one of those who resigned then, tweeted about the firings Thursday, saying, "No respect for their service". 'Dangerous that #Trump and Co.

Schoettes wrote in an op-ed in Newsweek after resigning that "the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously".

"It is a unsafe thing when the administration is eliminating people whose views are based in science and community experience", HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal in an interview with GPB.

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"I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later", he said.

Vice President Mike Pence, who has been running the administration behind the scenes as Trump continues his Twitter wars with the media, science, and fellow politicians, is vociferously anti-LGBT and has continuously shown resistance to combating HIV.

But gay rights advocates say the Trump administration has been discriminatory in a subtle way, leaving out any reference to the LGBTQ community from their statements.

Patrick Sullivan, a professor and epidemiologist at Emory University, and Oliver Clyde Allen III, an author and pastor at The Vision Church of Atlanta, were both appointed to the council by President Obama.

The White House did not immediately respond for comment. 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.

Impulse Group DC, a social and entertainment-based HIV awareness and advocacy group with particular focus on outreach to queer communities of color, sent out a press release heavily criticizing Trump's previous proposals to cut federal HIV programs, including the president's call to eliminate the Minority AIDS Initiative.

Nominations for membership to the Presidential Advisory Council must be received by January 2, according to the Federal Register, but it is unclear when new appointments will be made.

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