Trump fires HIV/AIDS council by FedEx

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has fired the entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) – via a letter sent through FedEx.

The Washington Blade reported Friday that the remaining 16 members of the council were fired on Wednesday. Six had left the council in June. Chicago-based advocate and Lambda Legal lawyer Scott Schoettes told the newspaper they had left because of inaction by the Trump administration.

From the Blade:

One source with knowledge of PACHA said many council members were terminated even though additional time remained on their terms as advisers.

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 said 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.

Maldonado pointed out recent issues like the CDC being barred from using certain words in budget documents as an example of the differences.

Newsweek reported that HIV/AIDS activists have been deeply critical of the White House’s approach over the past year. In the 2018 fiscal year budget, Trump sought huge cuts to programs including $150 million on HIV/AIDS at the Centers of Disease Control. The administration has also sought more than than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request to comment from the Blade on Thursday evening about the terminations.

New appointments could be coming soon. The Blade reported in October that gay Republicans familiar with HIV/AIDS issues and LGBT people have been among those contacted by a Trump administration official for possible appointments to PACHA.