Trump terminates remaining HIV/AIDS advisory council appointments

Gage Skidmore  Flickr

Gage Skidmore Flickr

Ten HIV/AIDS experts have been dismissed from their unpaid roles on the USA presidential advisory council.

The Trump administration this past week dismissed the remaining members of a federal advisory council on HIV and AIDS.

The Washington Post said the council, which was set up in 1995, makes national HIV/AIDS strategy recommendations - a five-year plan which sets out how health officials should respond to the epidemic.

Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiologist at Emory University in Atlanta who works on HIV testing programs, told the newspaper that the members were informed by letter this week that their terminations were effective immediately. In an interview with the Washington Blade, Maldonado argued that although turnover between administrations is not uncommon, the recent terminations were abnormal for two reasons: These terminations came almost a full year into the new administration, and many Obama appointees had been only recently re-sworn in under President Trump at the end of their Obama-appointed terms when Trump extended PACHA through executive order in September 2017: "It is common for appointees to be terminated and for folks to kind of want their own people in".

The dismissals come after six members resigned in June, citing "a President who simply does not care", CNN reported on Friday.

The health agency estimates that some 162,500 people (15 percent of all those living with the condition) are unaware that they are HIV positive.

She added that the Obama administration ended the appointments of members appointed by President George W. Bush "in order to bring in new voices", noting that the dismissed members could apply to serve on a new council to be convened in 2018. They reportedly received the communication through a letter delivered by FedEx. Gabriel Maldonado, chief executive of the LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution and a council member until this week, said he could only speculate why the final members were fired.

But Sullivan and Schoettes said that previous administrations had allowed members to serve full terms before appointing replacements.

In September, Trump issued an executive order that continued the council and 31 other advisory bodies through fall 2019. "From the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to this body, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there is a real problem this president has with dialogue or dissent".

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