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Six Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Members Resign: Public Health Watch Report

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill popularized the phrase “all politics is local.”
However, O’Neill, who died in 1987, could have never foreseen the Internet age. All politics may still be local, but now everything seems political as well—and political comings and goings are amplified via the wonders of the World Wide Web into national, and in some cases even global, stories.
Take for example the decision by 6 members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) to resign in protest of President Trump and his administration’s healthcare policy. These members did not just send a letter to the president, though: They also penned a Newsweek commentary published on June 16, 2017 entitled, “Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV. We’re Outta Here.”
Authored by Scott A. Schoettes, Counsel and HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, the commentary read in part, “The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the ongoing 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.”
In addition to Schoettes, fellow members Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses W. Burley III, Michelle Ogle, and Grissel Granados also stepped down from PACHA, officially submitting letters of resignation on June 13, 2017.
Current PACHA Vice Chair Darrell P. Wheeler, PHD, MPH, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, State University of New York at Albany did not reply to a request for comment prior to Contagion®’s deadline. Interestingly, the names of the resigning members of PACHA were still listed on the council’s web site a full week after their departure.
In the commentary, Schoettes and his colleagues accuse President Trump of demonstrating a “lack of understanding and concern regarding this important public health issue.” As evidence of this they state that, as a candidate, he refused to meet with HIV advocates during his campaign. Furthermore, they add that, as President, he has yet to appoint a leader to the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

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