Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned in protest last week over what they call an administration that has "no strategy" to deal with the epidemic, and "a president who simply does not care," NBC News reports. A member of the group accused the Trump administration of pushing "legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease." In an editorial in Newsweek, Scott Schoettes, of Lambda Legal, cites various reasons for the mass exodus—there are 12 members left on the panel that can sit 25—and writes that he and the others decided it would be more effective to work "from the outside." Schoettes says President Trump "took down" the Office of National AIDS Policy website a day after he took office, and has yet to appoint a new head of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
That adviser had been part of the Domestic Policy Council under former President Obama and had crafted a "comprehensive" HIV/AIDS strategy. "By contrast, President Trump appears to have no plan at all," Schoettes writes. Panel member Ulysses Burley III tells BuzzFeed the group's former White House or HHS meeting digs were downgraded in March to a former storage space. "You could see we were being moved down the totem pole in terms of importance," he says. A White House source counters to BuzzFeed that the administration has met several times with HIV/AIDS reps, and appointed expert Katy Talento to lead health policy on the DPC. (The HIV rate for gay and bisexual African Americans could hit 50%.)