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.
The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease.
Created in 1995, PACHA provides advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding programs, policies, and research to promote effective treatment, prevention, and an eventual cure for HIV.
The decision to resign from government service is not one that any of us take lightly. However, we cannot ignore the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously.
Signs of President Trump’s lack of understanding and concern regarding this important public health issue were apparent when he was a candidate. While Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders both met with HIV advocates during the primaries, candidate Trump refused. Whatever the politics of that decision, Mr. Trump missed an opportunity to learn—from the experts—about the contours of today’s epidemic and the most pressing issues currently affecting people living with HIV.
More important, President Trump has not appointed anyone to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, a post that held a seat on the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama. This means no one is tasked with regularly bringing salient issues regarding this ongoing public health crisis to the attention of the President and his closest advisers.
Because we do not believe the Trump Administration is listening to—or cares—about the communities we serve as members of PACHA, we have decided it is time to step down.