The Trump administration fired remaining members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), which advises the White House on HIV and AIDS policies, on Dec. 27.
According to reports in both the Washington Post and Newsweek, the dismissals were unexpected. This event comes nearly six months after several members resigned. At the time, some of the resigning members wrote an open letter in Newsweek, saying that the current administration didn’t “take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously.”
The letter that Trump sent to members of the council on the 27th “thanked me for my past service and said that my appointment was terminated, effective immediately,” Patrick Sullivan, a member who was appointed in May 2016, told the Washington Post.
Kaye Hayes, Executive Director or PACHA, confirmed the news to Salon.
“On December 27, 2017, the current members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) received a letter informing them that the Administration was terminating their appointments,” Hayes said in a statement. “They were also thanked for their leadership, dedication and commitment to the effort.”
The statement goes on to say that this was "a common occurrence during Administration changes.”
“The Obama Administration dismissed the George W. Bush Administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices. All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018,” the statement said.
Scott Schoettes, who was part of the group that quit in June, took to Twitter to voice his concerns about the firings.
To Schoettes’ point: What may seem like a procedural firing encompasses a bigger issue: AIDS and HIV doesn’t appear to be a priority and concern to the White House. As Newsweek pointed out, the 2018 fiscal year budget proposed cutting funding to critical health programs-- such as the HIV/AIDS one at at the Centers of Disease Control. The proposed cuts rightfully upset many HIV/AIDS activists.
Trump’s move is yet another slap in the face to those with AIDS and HIV, and everyone fighting to increase awareness.