Six people have resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS stating that Trump and his administration “do not care” about the cause.
Scott Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados all resigned after they felt that the president was imposing regressive policies in health care.
The council was created in 1995 with the aim of providing advice, information and recommendations to the Secretary of Health concerning the prevention and cure of HIV and AIDS.
In a joint resignation letter, the group wrote that they had dedicated their lives to fighting HIV and AIDS, but felt that the Trump administration was not preventing them from doing this successfully.
Schoettes wrote: “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.”
They went on to write that the current state of the advisory board, which is also known as PACHA, was “concerning”.
“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.”
The group went on to write that the eventual fate of PACHA was clear from before the election.
While Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both met with HIV advocates, Donald Trump did not.
The president has also neglected to appoint someone to the post of the White House Office of National AIDS policy.
Schoettes explained that these blatant disregards to the severity of HIV and AIDS meant that the diseases were not on Trump and his advisor’s priority lists.
They also addressed the president’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the cuts to Medicaid – and what this will do to those who rely on the programmes for their HIV and AIDS treatment.
The letter stated: “We know who the biggest losers will be if states are given the option of eliminating essential health benefits or allowing insurers to charge people with HIV substantially more than others.
“It will be people—many of them people of color—across the South and in rural and underserved areas across the country, the regions and communities now at the epicentre of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“It will be young gay and bisexual men; it will be women of colour; it will be transgender women; it will be low-income people. It will be people who become newly infected in an uncontrolled epidemic, new cases that could be prevented by appropriate care for those already living with the disease.”
The group concluded the letter by saying that the resignation was not an easy decision, but one that must be made.
“The decision to resign from government service is not one that any of us take lightly. However, we cannot ignore the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously.”