WASHINGTON, December 30, 2017 — President Trump terminated the entire council that advised the White House on the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Trump sent letters out earlier this week informing that their terminations were effective immediately.
The council, was set up in 1995 and makes national HIV/AIDS strategy recommendations. They create a five year plan that sets out how health officials should respond to the epidemic. The council is made up of doctors, industry leaders, community members and people living with the disease.
Last summer, several members resigned from the council in protest of President Trump’s health policies. Scott Shoettes was one of the members who quit and later spoke to Newsweek criticizing the Trump administration saying they have no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”
Schoette acknowledged that Trump wasn’t the only factor in his decision to quit, he saw the “writing on the wall,” saying The Office of National AIDS Policy has not had a director since President Trump took office. The tipping point though was Trump’s approach to the Affordable Care Act.
It’s unclear when new appointments will be made to the council. The last meeting was in August and now according to the council’s website, there only remains two staffers and no council members. President Trump issued an executive order which continued the council and 31 other advisory councils through 2019.
With Trump’s decision to terminate all the council members, activists claim he is not committed to putting an end to this disease. Democratic Coalition co-founder Scott Dworkin chastised Trump for the way members of the HIV/AIDS council were let go this week. Dworkin took to Twitter to criticize Trump’s firings saying: “Trump fired every single member of his HIV/AIDS council without telling them why,” “Not only that, he did it in a letter sent via FedEx. He didn’t even pick up the phone & call them. Laziest & most cruel president in the history of the United States-and obviously a complete coward.”
Trump has been criticized for not appointing a HIV/AIDS chief. Other criticisms have included Trump’s call for cuts to HIV funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his failure to mention the specific risk the disease poses to members of the LGBTQ community on both National HIV Testing Day and on World AIDS Day.
If you enjoy your writing, consider becoming our patron and get access to exclusive content.