Six months after several members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned due to the administrations inaction on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, President Donald Trump has terminated the remaining sixteen members of the council, with no explanation.
Scott Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and senior attorney for Lambda Legal, was one of the six who resigned in June over Trump’s inaction on HIV/AIDS and said on Twitter the remaining members were fired.
“No respect for their service,” Schoettes said. “Dangerous that #Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed.”
One remaining member, Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the California-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution, confirmed the lot had been fired and presumed that “ideological and philosophical differences” might underlie the decision.
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado said. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
PACHA has served each president with advice beginning with the Clinton administration in 1995 and continuing through President Obama. It remains unclear whether Trump will continue the council.
Previous reports indicated that Trump officials had been in contact with gay Republicans familiar with HIV/AIDS issues for possible positions on the council, but the administration's budget would indicate LGBT concerns are not a priority:
Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal also sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, including $150 million on HIV/AIDS programs at the Centers of Disease Control and more than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like PEPFAR Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria. The Republican-controlled Congress has thus far continued to fund these programs at previous levels.