Trump Administration Dismisses Members of HIV/AIDS Council as Nominations for New Council Near Deadline

Jaime Rosenberg

In the wake of the Trump administration’s dismissal of remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), the nomination of individuals for the 2018 council reaches its deadline tonight.

The remaining 10 members of the council, appointed by the Obama administration, received letters last week informing them of their dismissal and their eligibility to reapply for a spot on the new council. Early in December, HHS posted a notice on the Federal Register announcing that The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is seeking nominations for individuals to be considered for appointment to the council. All nominations must be received by 5:00 pm today.

Kaye Hayes, executive director, PACHA, confirmed the dismissals in a statement while explaining that every administration goes through the process of appointing new members: “Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes,” said Hayes. “The Obama administration dismissed the George W. Bush administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices. All PACHA members are eligible to apply to serve on the new council that will be convened in 2018.”

PACHA, founded in 1995, consists of health policy leaders with expertise in HIV and AIDS as well as public and global health. The council provides the Secretary advice, information, and recommendations regarding strategies for the treatment, prevention, and cure of HIV and AIDS. PACHA also provides recommendations on how to effectively implement to Updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy on an ongoing basis, as well as monitor the Strategy’s implementation. The council can have up to 25 members who can serve for up to 4-year terms.

Earlier this year, 6 members of PACHA resigned, alleging inaction by the Trump administration on policies concerning HIV and AIDS.

According to Jeffrey S. Crowley, program director, Infectious Disease Initiatives, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University, and former HIV/SIDS czar for President Obama, “This is a troubling development, but one that has the potential to distract us from what matters: working collectively to end the HIV epidemic in the United States and around the world.”

Currently, there are 1.2 million Americans living with HIV. While remarkable progress has been made, there is still work that needs to be done to move us closer to the day when HIV is no longer a public threat, said Crowley. While tools such as supplying sterile syringes to people who inject drugs, offering condoms, and providing a daily pill to HIV negative individuals with increased risk for infection have been utilized, the most marginalized and traumatized communities need increased access.
 
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