President Donald Trump fired the entire council that advises his administration about the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The members were informed by letter this week that their terminations were effective immediately, Patrick Sullivan, epidemiologist at Emory University in Atalanta, who works on HIV testing programs, told The Washington Post.
The council was set up in 1995 and it is made up of doctors, members of industry, members of the community and people living with the disease. The council makes national HIV/AIDS strategy recommendations — a five-year plan which sets out how health officials should respond to the epidemic.
According to sources familiar with the terminations, the terms of several council members appointed during the Obama era still had time to run. The move follows the June resignation of six other representatives of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. At the time they said at the time they were frustrated with Trump’s health care policies.
Some members slammed Trump’s American Health Care Act (AHCA). According to them, the act would leave many of the 1.1 million Americans with HIV/AIDS without access to proper treatment. Council members also complained that, since taking office, Trump had failed to appoint a director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, USA Today reports.
Lawyer Scott Shoettes, who resigned from the committee in June, described Trump’s decision as “dangerous.” He tweeted that Trump’s administration was “eliminating the few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex education.”
Trump has sought to make $150 million in cuts to HIV/AIDS programs in the 2018 fiscal year budget, as well as deep cuts to global projects to fight AIDS and other diseases, Newsweek reported. According to HIV/AIDS campaigners, the firings from the council are potentially setting back the fight against the disease following years of progress.