A red ribbon is displayed on the North Portico of the White House, Dec. 1, 2014, to commemorate World AIDS Day.
Olivier Douliery/ABACAUSA.com

Trump admin fires every member of its HIV/AIDS council

Over the summer, after Donald Trump faced international rebukes for his response to racist violence in Charlottesville, many members of assorted presidential advisory panels resigned, no longer willing to be associated with this administration.

Occasionally, however, people are still willing to serve on White House panels, only to have Trump fire them. The Washington Post  reported the other day, for example:

The remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were fired en masse [last] week. […]

The notice “thanked me for my past service and said that my appointment was terminated, effective immediately,” said Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiologist at Emory University who works on HIV testing programs. He was appointed to a four-year term in May 2016.

The council, known by the acronym PACHA, has advised the White House on HIV/AIDS policies since its founding in 1995. Members, who are not paid, offer recommendations on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan responding to the epidemic.

The council’s executive director, Kaye Hayes, told the Post that replacing council members with changes in administrations has occurred before, which is true, though it doesn’t explain why Trump kept these panelists around for a year, only to fire them without warning, without explanation, and without their successors in place.

What’s more, previous administrations had allowed members to serve their full terms before replacing them. Trump is choosing a different course.

Making matters slightly worse is this president’s overall record on the issue.

Chris Lu, a veteran of the Obama administration, noted that Trump’s proposed White House budget “proposed dramatically slashing HIV/AIDS funding,” including a proposed $150 million cut from HIV prevention programs.

What’s more, last summer, several members of this same advisory panel resigned in disgust, explaining in a joint letter, “ ‘As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.”

There was also this NBC News report from last month, noting that the president issued a statement recognizing World AIDS Day, but it failed to mention the LGBTQ community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gay and bisexual men account for an estimated 70 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. Black gay and bisexual men are particularly susceptible, with an estimated 10,000 new HIV infections annually. […]

Scott Schoettes, the HIV Project director at Lambda Legal, slammed Trump’s failure to mention the LGBTQ community and other vulnerable populations.

“Simply put, HIV affects people in some communities more than others, and our federal government cannot turn a blind eye to that,” he said in a statement.

As a candidate, Trump told LGBTQ voters, “I will fight for you.” Once in office, he started doing the opposite, and the trend continues.

AIDS and Donald Trump

Trump admin fires every member of its HIV/AIDS council