“The Trump Administration has no strategy to address the on-going HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
Six members of Donald Trump’s HIV/AIDS advisory council have resigned this week, after stating the President “simply does not care” about fighting the health epidemic.
In a statement through Newsweek magazine, Scott Schoettes, a lawyer from Lambda Legal, said: “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 quit the council on Tuesday, along with Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle and Grissel Granados. He explained the decision was “not one that any of us take lightly”, but they could not ignore the administration’s lack of effort towards fighting the epidemic.
He continued: “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.”
Schoettes hit out at Trump’s “lack of understanding” for the issue, saying it was apparent when he campaigned for the Presidency: “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.”
He also criticised the President for not replacing the website for the Office of National AIDS Policy, which was taken down the day he took office.
“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”, Schoettes continued.
“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.”
Schoettes shared his concern for people living with HIV and AIDS if changes to Medicaid are enacted by the American Health Care Act, saying it would be “devastating”.
“We know who the biggest losers will be if states are given the option of eliminating essential health benefits or allowing insurers to charge people with HIV substantially more than others.
“It will be people—many of them people of color—across the South and in rural and underserved areas across the country, the regions and communities now at the epicenter of the U.S. HIV/AIDS epidemic. It will be young gay and bisexual men; it will be women of color; it will be transgender women; it will be low-income people.”
Schoettes ended the editorial stating he and the other five members who resigned will be “more effective from the outside, advocating for change and protesting policies that will hurt the health of the communities we serve and the country as a whole if this administration continues down the current path.”
Read Scott Schoettes’ full editorial here.