The Trump administration this past week dismissed the remaining members of a federal advisory council on HIV and AIDS. The group’s executive director said the move was a common occurrence in new administrations, but others questioned that.
Six members of the body, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS, resigned this year in protest of President Donald Trump.
Kaye Hayes, the council’s executive director, confirmed in a statement Friday that the remaining members had received a letter saying the administration was ending their appointments. “Changing the makeup of federal advisory committee members is a common occurrence during administration changes,” she said.
She added that the Obama administration ended the appointments of members appointed by President George W. Bush “in order to bring in new voices,” noting that the dismissed members could apply to serve on a new council to be convened in 2018.
Established by President Bill Clinton in 1995, the council can have up to 25 members who are appointed to four-year terms by the secretary of health and human services in consultation with the White House.
Gabriel Maldonado, the chief executive of TruEvolution, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and an HIV and AIDS services organization, who was among those dismissed, said federal officials could have removed him and his colleagues when Trump was inaugurated or at one of the two meetings the council held this year.
During those meetings, he said the council had voiced concerns over the Trump administration’s position on the Affordable Care Act, among other issues.
Six members announced their departure in June. Writing in Newsweek, one of the former members, Scott A. Schoettes, who is counsel and HIV project director at Lambda Legal,said that “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.”
David Kilmnick, the president of the LGBT Network, criticized the dismissals. “We have finally made significant progress in trying to end the epidemic once and for all and the irrational and immature moves by Trump will only set us back,” he said in a statement.