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: "It feels like retribution against members of the committee who have spoken out against the Trump administration for their inaction on issues related to HIV/AIDS".
The firings came Wednesday, and numerous members still had time remaining on their terms. Other Presidents, including Barack Obama, have cleared out most of their predecessor's appointees to make room for their own.
At the time of this post, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) has not been staffed - and hasn't been since the Trump Administration began in January of 2017. Right now, many of us are people of color and members of the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV. Its most recent meeting took place in August, Sullivan said, and by November, an archived version of PACHA's website shows the group was down to 10 members and two staff.
"It is a risky thing when the administration is eliminating people whose views are based in science and community experience", HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal in an interview with GPB.
But it's also not unusual for an administration to clear out the previous administration's appointees like this.
He also mentioned different priorities between the current administration and former council members.
Maldonado noted the PACHA terminations are taking place at the year's end after the June resignations, which he said is "a little too coincidental".
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. "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.
"I just am coming to the acknowledgment that the traditional tactics of politicking and policy and strategy and negotiation, the kind of standard tools that we're trying to use, that the status quo is no longer acceptable", Maldonado said.
The White House didn't immediately respond to a request to comment Thursday evening on the terminations.
Hayes cast the decision as a normal one made by an administration seeking to appoint its own peoples to a presidential advisory committee.
The firing of the remaining board members provides further evidence that the Trump administration isn't interested in the issue.