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Trump ends terms of remaining members of HIV and AIDS council

31 December 2017
Trump ends terms of remaining members of HIV and AIDS council

In the final week of December 2017, President Trump fired the remaining ten council members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).

The terminations were effective immediately, the paper reported, citing epidemiologist Patrick Sullivan.

Established by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the council can have up to 25 members who are appointed to four-year terms by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the White House. Members, who are not paid, offer recommendations on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan responding to the epidemic. "Without it, you lose the community voice in policymaking".

But the "writing was on the wall", he continued.

Six members of the council resigned in June due to "a president who simply does not care", according to one member in a Newsweek op-ed entitled "Trump doesn't care about HIV".

During those meetings, he said the council had voiced concerns over the Trump administration's position on the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.

The health agency estimates that some 162,500 people (15 percent of all those living with the condition) are unaware that they are HIV positive.

The council's executive director, Kaye Hayes, confirmed in a statement that all remaining council members had received letters Wednesday "informing them that the administration was terminating their appointments".

Though it is not unusual for incoming administrations to staff committees with members more in line with their political party (such as when former president Barack Obama cleaned house from the Bush administration), the Trump White House has sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programmes.

The website, which says it was updated Thursday, now shows two staff and no council members.

"Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes", she said.

Ten HIV/AIDS experts have been dismissed from their unpaid roles on the U.S. presidential advisory council. All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018. The "remaining HIV/AIDS council members [were] booted by Donald Trump". One of those members ― Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif. -based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution ― told the Washington Blade, however, that "it is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in".