With just one more kick in the teeth before the end of the 1-7, President Donald Trump has terminated the entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, most likely because members of the board have been critical of his handling of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Six members of PACHA resigned in June because of what they said was the Trump administration’s harmful HIV/AIDS policies, like pushing abstinence-only sex ed, and the fact that the White House has yet to appoint a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy. On Wednesday the White House terminated the remaining 16 members without explanation via a FedExed letter, the Washington Blade reports. (This is the same way Trump fired former FBI Chief James Comey, remember?)
The terminated members, sources said, were given the option to reapply after Tuesday, but one of them, Gabriel Maldonado, a young, black, HIV-positive activist, told the Blade that the reason for the termination was still unclear.
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado said. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. I was an Obama appointee, and my term was continuing until 2018.”
Kaye Hayes, executive director of PACHA, confirmed that the council members were terminated Wednesday, and noted that the Obama administration swapped out George W. Bush appointees, saying, “All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018.”
Maldonado addressed this.
“It is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in,” Maldonado said. “I think where the discrepancy comes in is, why a year later, number one? Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on nearly four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council.
“The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration’s approach was,” Maldonado added.
The Blade reports that Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal also sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, including $150 million from HIV/AIDS programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and more than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.
Now, with the opioid epidemic continuing to rage, the number of those diagnosed with HIV and fighting AIDS may continue to surge, and it looks as if there is no effective, concerted governmental effort to stem the tide.
Maybe when his “supporters” and their children begin to die at astronomical rates, Trump will get his big bloated head out of his ass.
But in the meantime, an estimated 1.2 million people have HIV/AIDS in the United States, with the brunt of the epidemic hitting the African-American community and, especially, young black, gay men, the demographic where the majority of new HIV infections are occurring.
Read more at the Washington Blade.