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January 3, 2018

Trump dismisses entire HIV/AIDS council, but will seek replacements

Daily Briefing

    The Trump administration last week dismissed the remaining 10 members of the President's Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), who were appointed by former President Barack Obama.

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    Six PACHA members had resigned from the council this past summer. According to the Washington Post, the administration in letters sent to the remaining members on Wednesday said it was terminating their appointments. Patrick Sullivan, an epidemiologist at Emory University who had been appointed by Obama to serve a four-year term on the council, said the Trump administration's letter "thanked [him] for [his] past service and said [his] appointment was terminated, effective immediately."

    According to The Hill, the Trump administration early last month published a notice in the Federal Register requesting nominations for new council members. The administration requested that such nominations be submitted by Jan. 2.


    PACHA Executive Director Kaye Hayes said, "Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes." She added, "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."

    But Sullivan and Scott Schoettes, a lawyer at Lambda Legal and a former council member who resigned from PACHA this past summer, argued that the Trump administration's move represented a sharp departure from prior practice, saying council members under previous administrations served their full terms before being replaced. Sullivan said, "It is important to have a rolling, transitioning body that crosses administrations that really has a set of diverse outlooks on the epidemic."

    Gabriel Maldonado, CEO of the HIV/AIDS service organization TruEvolution and a former council member whose service was terminated by the Trump administration, said the administration likely terminated his and the other remaining members' terms because officials "want[ed] their own people there." He added, "The fact is we are in many ways worlds apart in our approaches."

    Separately, David Kilmnick, president of the LGBT Network, in a statement called the administration's move "irrational and immature," particularly as the United States has "made significant progress in trying to end the epidemic once and for all" (Hellmann, The Hill, 12/29/17; Martin/Welle, DW/USA Today, 12/30/17; Stevens/Victor,  New York Times, 12/30/17; Guarino, "To Your Health," Washington Post, 12/29/17).

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