Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS loses six members to apathy

Ebony Scott
June 19, 2017

According to The Hill on Saturday night, six members on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS have made a decision to quit, ripping the president during an initial interview and statement with Newsweek.

Outraged at President Trump's lack of care and the Trump administration's regressive healthcare policies, Scott Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados announced their joint resignation in a letter for Newsweek magazine. PACHA was a follow up of President Ronald Reagan's 1987 President's Commission on the HIV Epidemic and 1988's National Commission on AIDS. In fact, the current administration has no plan to address the on-going HIV epidemic, does not consult experts to formulate policy, and pushes legislation that will be harmful for people living with HIV or reverse significant gains made in the campaign against this disease, Schoettes said.

Schoettes writes that he feels he can't "effectively" combat this disease "within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care".

According to Schoettes, the commission met with Secretary Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders before the new President was elected but never actually meet President Donald Trump before the elections.

He also criticised the President for not replacing the website for the Office of National AIDS Policy, which was taken down the day he took office. Moreover, Trump has not named the individual assigned to become the head of the White House National AIDS Policy organization, which was created during President Obama's time in the White House.

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The group's letter also singled out the Trump administration's efforts to scale back the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has led to important gains in the lives of people with HIV.

The six former council members believe they would be more effective in the fight against AIDS from "the outside" and they will continue to urge members of Congress to listen to advocates as they work to reform the health care system.

However, the Trump administration is not aware of these realities.

"Between. defunding Medicaid expansion, imposing per-person caps on benefits, and/or block granting the program, the changes to Medicaid contemplated by the American Health Care Act would be particularly devastating for people living with HIV". This policy was formed in 2010 as a part of the White House Domestic Policy Council of Obama.

The board can carry as many as 25 members, but it sat at 18 before the six members resigned. "Where's their courage? This should have been a mass protest with ALL members resigning", wrote prominent, long-time AIDS activist Peter Staley.

Other reports by GizPress

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