Trump terminates HIV/AIDS advisory panel members as he seeks replacements

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With just one more kick in the teeth before the end of 2017, President 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 and AIDS epidemic.

"We can not ignore the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic, or the needs of people living with HIV, seriously", wrote Schoettes, the HIV project director for Lambda Legal, a civil rights organization focused on the LGBT community and people living with HIV.

Kaye Hayes, executive director of PACHA, confirmed the council members were terminated on Wednesday, and noted that the Obama administration swapped out George W. Bush appointees.

Scott Schoettes, one of those who resigned then, tweeted about the firings Thursday, saying, "No respect for their service". "Dangerous that Trump and company (Pence especially) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed".

The firings were announced in separate letters mailed to the council members by FedEx earlier this week.

More broadly, when asked whether he thinks the Trump administration cares about the LGBT community and those living with HIV/AIDS, he said, "Bigotry and homophobia have been around since the beginning of the country, sometimes it takes a voice for a particularly type of sentiment to be resurrected". The remaining 10 members were dismissed, the Washington Post reported.




The mass dismissal follows the resignation in June of six other representatives of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, who said at the time they were frustrated with Trump's health care policies. Six members had resigned in June, protesting the Trump administration's lack of action regarding the disease.

It should be noted that, during the Obama administration, nearly all of George W. Bush's appointees were terminated prior to new appointees being named. "I can only speculate", Maldonado told the Blade, "like any administration, they want their own people there. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018", he said. He also wants more than $1 billion in cuts from worldwide programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"The timing is a little bit unorthodox compared to what the Obama administration's approach was", Maldonado said. ".I can only hope that my people - marginalized people - remember that we have been here before". Globally, there are 37 million people estimated to be carrying the disease.

The White House deferred comment to the Department of Health & Human Services, which provided the statement from the PACHA executive director.

Trump's ignorance on the issue was evident last week as well.

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