On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly sent termination letters via FedEx to all 16 remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), a group that makes recommendations about the U.S. government's response to the HIV epidemic. No explanation was given by the president regarding their terminations, although some expect the firings are politically motivated. "I would personally be surprised if he even does replace these individuals with his own people", said Mark Leno.
Sullivan had been appointed to a four-year term in May 2016 under former US President Barack Obama. The Bush administration continued the council's charter and during the Obama administration the council created and monitored the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
Six of the members of the council, upset by White House actions on health policy, resigned in June. Medications have advanced since then, making HIV a much more manageable diagnosis for many Americans.
Trump Fires Entire HIV/AIDS Council Via FedEx, No Reason Given
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". 'Dangerous that #Trump and Co. "And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration".
'[The dismissed council members] were also thanked for their leadership, dedication and commitment to the effort, ' Hayes said. The remaining 10 members were dismissed, the Washington Post reported. "Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during Administration changes". But the jettisoned members are also encouraged to reapply to the new council, which will begin in 2018. Trump's approach leaves those concerned about the future of the disease with more questions than answers. Although the reason behind their departure wasn't officially given, one former member of the council suggested that the members had objected to failed policy ideas such as abstinence-only education, implying that dissent played a role in their removal. "Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on almost four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council".
An estimated 1.2 million Americans are infected with either HIV or AIDS.
Most of Maldonado's work involves addressing the "disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women". Globally, there are 37 million people estimated to be carrying the disease.
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