The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS lost 6 members this week. Imstilljosh.com has an exclusive interview with one former member who is warning us all.
They did not wait for President Trump to say, “You’re fired”– they just quit this week.
So, that’s 30% of the members resigning in this one week. PACHA is the group of people that is tasked with making sure the National Strategy is being implemented and making recommendations to the administration (both the West Wing and Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services) on policy.
According to Newsweek, Scott A. Schoettes, Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS on June 13.
One of those that resigned this week is Scott Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal.
He says, in an exclusive interview with imstilljosh.com, “I resigned because it became apparent to me that the administration was not going to be listening to or seeking recommendations from the body I was on [PACHA]. It didn’t really make sense to be spending time formulating those recommendations if they are not going to be listened to. And what put the nail in the coffin was the President’s handling of the healthcare act. It’s awful for our community.”
The last in-person meeting of PACHA was in March of this year, although the members generally have monthly committee calls in between the quarterly face-to-face sessions.
“The people within the federal government were continuing their work, because the body continues from one administration to the next. It [the in-person March meeting] came as a surprise to some of the Trump people who had come in, at that point. They sort of took some interest, but I don’t think they’re going to be paying much attention to recommendations that are coming out the body [PACHA].”
And when asked I asked if President Trump knows of the existence of this council, Schoettes shares, “I doubt this President knows he has this Council. I’m not even sure the Secretary of Health and Human Services knows the administration has this council. He may. But I don’t know.”
And that lack of knowledge of help to the administration is pretty unsettling, as someone living with HIV.
So who is the person that is the go-to person within the government for questions relating to the epidemic and the U.S. response?
Schoettes says, “I don’t think the administration is thinking about the HIV and AIDS epidemic or thinking about people living with HIV, so it is unclear who is actually tasked with overseeing that work.”
So what do people living with HIV need to know and do?
“We need to stand up and make our voices heard because this healthcare bill is now being re-written in the Senate in secret, and if we do not get just as loud, if not louder than we were when it was in the House, we are going to have the lifeline that has been created through the Affordable Care Act…is going to disappear in the next few years.”