Six people resign from Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS because Trump ‘doesn’t care’

Six people have now resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (PACHA).

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.

‘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,’ Schoettes writes in the letter.

‘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.’

Why it matters

PACHA was created in 1995 to provide ‘advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary [of Health] regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention and cure of HIV disease and AIDS, including considering common co-morbidities of those infected with HIV as needed to promote effective HIV prevention and treatment and quality services to persons living with HIV disease and AIDS.’

In the letter, Schoettes mentions that only about 40% of people living with HIV in the United States are able to access the life-saving medications which have been around for over 20 years.

Schoettes also recalls that, before the election, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders met with HIV advocates while candidate Trump refused to do so. And on the day Trump took office, the administration removed the Office of National AIDS Policy website. In the five months President Trump has been in office, no replacement for this website has been added.

Additionally, President Trump has not appointed anyone to represent the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. ‘This means no one is tasked with regularly bringing salient issues regarding this ongoing public health crisis to the attention of the President and his closest advisers,’ Schoettes writes.

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