The Trump Administration summarily fired what was left of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Thursday via a FedEx letter. While it is not uncommon for incoming administrations to replace council members when their terms expire the timing of the firing leaves the administration just two days to replace the entire council.
Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the Riverside, Calif.,-based LGBT and HIV/AIDS group Truevolution, was a remaining member of PACHA and confirmed they were fired, but told The Washington Blade that the “explanation is still unclear.”
“I can only speculate,” Maldonado said. “Like any administration, they want their own people there. Many of us were Obama appointees. I was an Obama appointee and my term was continuing until 2018.”
Maldonado said “ideological and philosophical differences” with the administration are a potential reason for the terminations.
As an example, Maldonado cited a recent Washington Post report the Centers for Disease Control is banned from using words like “diversity” and “transgender” in budget documents. The CDC director has denied those words are banned.
“I was co-chair of the disparities committee, so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issuing of diverse communities, specifically looking at the impacts of the LGBT community, namely, the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women,” Maldonado said. “And a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration.”
Speaking to the Washington Post following the December removal of the remaining PACHA members, Former member Scott Schoettes alleged that loyalty to the president, not credentials, will likely be the driving factor in approving new nominations to the council, saying: “The only criteria for serving this president is loyalty. From the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] to this body, to the FBI, there is a real problem this president has with dialogue or dissent.”
The deadline for nominating new members to the council is 2 January 2018.
One of Trump’s first acts was to shut down the White House Office of AIDS Policy. The website was shuttered in January and no staff has since been hired as a replacement. It should be of particular note to Trump supporters that much of their demographic is at the highest risk of contracting Hiv.
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