Trump fires entire HIV/AIDS council by FedEx letter

Faith Castro
December 30, 2017

"The current members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) received a letter informing them that the Administration was terminating their appointments", Kaye Hayes, the council's executive director, said. On Wednesday, he fired the remaining letters without explanation with a letter delivered by FedEx.

Gabriel Maldonado, one of the members fired this week, told the Blade he didn't know the reason for the firings, but said they could be due to "ideological and philosophical differences" with the administration.

This week, HIV reseracher Dr Patrick Sullivan told The Washington Post that a form letter was sent out that "thanked me for my past service and said that my appointment was terminated, effective immediately". But some fear the Trump administration will both diminish support for LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS activism and increase the stigmatization around being HIV-positive, which could lead to further infections and a lower quality of life for those living with the virus and disease.

'No respect for their service, ' he wrote. "Dangerous that #Trump and Co". Many of us were Obama appointees.

Newsweek also reports that Obama fired all of the PACHA members appointed by his predecessor George W. Bush, meaning that Trump's move isn't unprecedented.

Trump fires entire HIV/AIDS council by FedEx letter

It is not uncommon for a new president to clear a council of its members and restaff, and President Barack Obama did the same with PACHA when he took office in 2008. "And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration".

'Many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, ' Maldonado revealed.

President Trump re-certified PACHA via a continuance of Executive Order 12963 on September 29, 2017. "I think where the discrepancy comes in is why a year later, number 1?" The president's 2018 fiscal year budget seeks $150 million in cuts from HIV research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and more than than $1 billion removed from programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Six members of PACHA resigned from the council back in June, stating that their departure then had to do with Trump's negligence on the important issue. "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".

Since the resignations in June, Trump has made public statements on HIV/AIDS consisting of proclamations on National HIV Testing Day and World AIDS Day. "There is no way for us to know where on the agenda HIV policy is, and that is the concerning part".

"The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration's approach was", Maldonado said. Read the full Washington Blade article, here.

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