Just months after President Trump took office, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS quit in protest. In an op-ed announcing their resignations, former council member Scott A. Schoettes explained that his colleagues could no longer ignore the “many signs” that Trump does not take the needs of people living with HIV seriously.
“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,” wrote Schoettes, who directs the HIV Project at Lambda Legal.
A month later, the remaining council members warned Tom Price, Trump’s health czar at the time, that GOP efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of new and preventable HIV infections. Medicaid expansion has allowed more people to access HIV prevention and treatment services, and repealing the ACA would exacerbate racial inequalities in health coverage that help explain why Black Americans are disproportionally impacted by HIV in the United States.
In December 2017, Trump fired them all. The dismissal of the council’s remaining members was framed as routine — the Obama administration replaced council members from the Bush years — but former council members told media outlets that the timing was suspect. As the November elections approach, their former seats on the president’s HIV/AIDS council remain vacant.
The purge of Trump’s HIV/AIDS advisory council is just one example of how the administration has failed people of color and LGBTQ people while advancing policies that could harm millions who are historically marginalized due to their racial, gender and/or sexual identity, according to a new report from the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a…