6 members of Trump’s task force on HIV/AIDS publish a damning open letter concluding that Trump doesn’t care about the epidemic or its victims.
Almost 25% of the President-appointed task force on HIV/AIDS resigned last week in frustration over President Trump’s policies. The resignation was announced by an open letter sent to Newsweek. Scott Schoettes, counsel and HIV Project director at Lambda Legal, wrote that there is no strategy, no input from experts to formulate policy, and the worst: promotes policy that harms people with HIV/AIDS, and halts or reverses gains in the fight against the disease. The board members feel that Trump just doesn’t care.
Most concerning, Schoettes wrote that:
As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care.
A good deal of the reason the board members resigned was over the AHCA (American Health Care Act) pushed by Republicans. The bill would make it very difficult for people with AIDS, make it more difficult to receive adequate healthcare, and possibly keep them from getting treatment.
In a Time Magazine article quoting the letter, Schoettes wrote, “we will be more effective from the outside, advocating for change and protesting policies that will hurt the health of the communities we serve and the country as a whole if this administration continues down the current path.”
The remaining members also expressed concern over the proposed Republican AHCA and the disastrous effects it will have on people with HIV or AIDS. Southern AIDS Coalition executive director Nicholas Carlisle is one of the board members who stayed. “I was aware that people were considering resignation, did some deep soul searching, and made a conscious decision to stay,” Carlisle told The Daily Beast. “It was not easy. It was certainly not an easy decision.”
The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS was formed in 1995 by the Clinton Administration and carried through to the Bush Administration. In 2010 (and revised in 2015) The White House Office of National AIDS Policy was created. [Consistent with the resignation letter posted by council member, you might note that the web page for the White House Office of AIDS Policy is now empty.]
The PACHA (Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS) board monitors and provides information in order to implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The members meet quarterly and are tasked “with advising the secretary of Health and Human Services (and ultimately the President) on how to promote the best HIV treatment and prevention strategies.”