Advertisement

Donald Trump fires remaining HIV/AIDS council members

Donald Trump speaks on his 'America First' national security strategy in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington.
Donald Trump speaks on his 'America First' national security strategy in the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington. EPA/JIM LO SCALZO

U.S. President Donald Trump fired the rest of the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS earlier this week.

The council, called PACHA for short, was set up by Bill Clinton and is supposed to provide advice and direction on policy and other aspects of AIDS prevention.

READ MORE: B.C. approves coverage of HIV-blocking drug for high-risk groups

According to a statement from the council’s executive director, the group members each received a letter earlier this week with the news. B. Kaye Hayes said previous presidents have made similar moves.

“Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes,” Hayes said in a statement, according to CNN.

She also noted that changing advisory committee members is a common thing for a president to do.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: How the fear of HIV has changed over time

How the fear of HIV has changed over time
How the fear of HIV has changed over time

Former committee member Scott A. Schoettes confirmed the news on Twitter.

“Remaining HIV/AIDS council members booted by @realDonaldTrump. No respect for their service. Dangerous that Trump and Co. (Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed,” Schoettes wrote, adding the hashtags “#WeObject” and “#Resist.”

Council member Gabriel Maldonado told the Guardian the firing felt like “retribution.”

READ MORE: Are we still afraid of HIV? What the infection rates in Canada tell us

“I’ve criticized the Trump government’s HIV policy … I think we all know broadly that there is a hostility that this administration has to people in the LGBTQ community, particularly [among] those on the evangelical right wing.”
Story continues below advertisement

He also said he was worried about reports like the one saying there were banned words in the CDC like transgender and diversity — saying there might be policy changes coming.

“It’s unclear exactly what is happening but it seems to be a foreshadowing of what they are thinking on policy,” he told the Guardian.

READ MORE: Trump bans public health agency from using words ‘science-based,’ ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender’

The firing came six months after six council members resigned. At the time, Schoettes penned an op-ed in Newsweek saying Trump didn’t take the fight against HIV/AIDS seriously.

“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and — most concerning — pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease,” he wrote.

Trump is expected to appoint another PACHA in the future.