In what activists see as another sign of his indifference to the AIDS epidemic, Donald Trump has fired the remaining 16 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS "without explanation via a letter from FedEx", the Washington Blade reports. He added that he planned to publish an open letter about the firings today.
Schoettes went on to say that Trump was "executing a purge" by many of his actions, including those unrelated to HIV. "I think this is a President and an administration that doesn't value dialogue and dissenting views".
It's unclear if the administration will continue the council and when they'll introduce new members. Some 25 members can be commissioned for the council, also known as "PACHA", but as November only 10 members were listed on the council's website.
It is not uncommon for a new president to clear a council of its members and restaff, and President Barack Obama did the same with PACHA when he took office in 2008.
"The Obama administration dismissed the George W Bush administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices", she said.
But Maldonado said the termination of PACHA members during the Trump administration is only partially consistent with the Obama years. "All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018".More news: Ryan Murphy Makes History with Largest Trans Cast in TV History
'Many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, ' Maldonado revealed. An estimated 1.2 million people have HIV/AIDS in the United States and 37 million have the disease worldwide.
The firings came months after a half-dozen other members resigned in protest of the Trump administration's position on health policies, including its desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He also wants more than $1 billion in cuts from worldwide programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Maldonado said he represented a younger demographic on PACHA as the only member under the age of 30, which he said is where the majority of new HIV infections are occurring, and as a young, black gay man.
Ben Plumley, Chief Executive Officer of Pangaea, an worldwide HIV organization that works with funders and national governments to help at-risk populations, has said that if the USA lets HIV go unchecked at home and overseas, it will destabilize each country's national security. "Every organization serving people living with HIV and fighting to end this epidemic must galvanize their networks of clients, staff, and volunteers to resist and fight back against these risky HIV policy decisions", he added.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request to comment Thursday evening on the terminations. Read the full Washington Blade article, here.