Trump dumps HIV/AIDS advisors

The White House continued its assault on the LGBT community by firing the remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) without explanation.

Council members were informed that their appointments to the panel were terminated effective immediately.

“It is a dangerous thing when the administration is eliminating people whose views are based in science and community experience.” said a tweet from Lambda Legal, a national legal organization advocating for LGBT people and everyone living with HIV.

PACHA was established in 1995, during the Clinton administration, to advise the White House on HIV strategies and policies, but six of the members of the council, upset by Trump administration actions on health policy, resigned in June.

Scott Schoettes, a lawyer with Lambda Legal, a LGBT rights organization, who was one of the panelists to resign, wrote at the time that Trump “simply does not care” about people living with HIV and said the administration “pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.”

“The tipping point for me was the president’s approach to the Affordable Care Act,” said Schoettes on Friday, noting that Obamacare “is of great importance for people living with HIV like myself.”

Schoettes said much of the public is unaware that “only about 40 percent of people living with HIV in the United States are able to access the life-saving medications that have been available for more than 20 years. It is not acceptable for the U.S. president to be unaware of these realities, to setup a government that deprioritizes fighting the epidemic and its causes or to implement policies and support legislation that will reverse the gains made in recent years.”

B. Kaye Hayes, PACHA’s executive director, said in a statement that the dismissals were part of the White House’s effort to “bring in new voices.”

Dr. David Kilmnick, president of the New York-based LGBT Network, said the firing of the council members “is another outlandish and despicable move by the Trump administration in his year-long effort to erase the LGBT community and the issues that disproportionately affect us.”

“From ending protections against bullying for trans youth in our schools to his attempt to ban the transgender community from the military to no mention of Gay Pride month during June to leaving out the LGBT community on World AIDS Day to banning words such as transgender, diversity and other, this president has been nothing but a complete train wreck that is a danger to the safety and lives of all Americans,” Kilmnick said.

The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking nominations for new council members.

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