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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 23, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 25
Members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS quit

Trump 'does not care,' they charge
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Members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS quit

Trump 'does not care,' they charge

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Six of the 18 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned June 13, saying that Donald Trump 'simply does not care' about fighting the disease.

In a June 16 op-ed in Newsweek magazine, Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, explained why he and his colleagues quit PACHA.

'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 wrote.

'The Trump administration has no strategy to address the ongoing 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...

'While many members of the public are unaware of the significant impact that HIV/AIDS continues to have in many communities - or that only 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are able to access the life-saving medications that have been available for more than 20 years - it is not acceptable for the US president to be unaware of these realities, to set up a government that deprioritizes fighting the epidemic and its causes, or to implement policies and support legislation that will reverse the gains made in recent years.'

Created under Bill Clinton in 1995, PACHA is charged with providing 'advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and an eventual cure for HIV.'

Members are appointed by the president and include public health officials, researchers, health care providers, faith leaders, HIV advocates, and people living with HIV.

PACHA also monitors and provides recommendations to effectively implement the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was created by the White House Office of National AIDS Policy in 2010 and revised in 2015, under the Obama administration.

In addition to Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados also quit.

Among the Trump policies they object to are taking down the Office of National AIDS Policy website and failing to appoint anyone to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

The group said that the last straw that led them to quit the council was Trump's health care plan, which, if implemented, would severely harm those living with HIV by defunding the Medicaid system. More than 40% of HIV-positive people get medical care through Medicaid, the six noted.

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Members of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS quit

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