Mass Resignation at HIV Council Exposes Trump's Cruelty

Mass Resignation at HIV Council Exposes Trump's Cruelty

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS has been gutted after six members quit, writing in a blistering letter to Newsweek that President Trump is allowing people to suffer and die.

Scott Schoettes, HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, penned the letter. Schoettes quit the Presidential Advisory Council last week, along with Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados.

"As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care," Schoettes writes.

As Schoettes points out, the Presidential Advisory Council was created in 1995 — under the administration of President Bill Clinton — to help the president best tackle the epidemic via the help of researchers, health professionals, faith leaders, HIV advocates, and people living with the disease. The council has continued to advise administrations and, under President Obama's tenure, helped produce the influential National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Schoettes says Trump has effectively gutted their work. Upon assuming office, Trump took down the website of the Office of National AIDS Policy. The president also has not appointed a leader for the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, he says, adding that Trump refused to meet with HIV leaders when running for president, something both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did.

The most egregious action of Trump's though, is the American Health Care Act, the president's proposed replacement for Obamacare.

"Between... defunding Medicaid expansion, imposing per-person caps on benefits, and/or block granting the program, the changes to Medicaid contemplated by the American Health Care Act would be particularly devastating for people living with HIV."

The people most affected by Trump's cruel indifference: low-income people of color, transgender women, and gay and bi people in Southern states where leaders are itching to cut off funding for meds and health care. 

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