2 weeks ago, I resigned from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA): https://www.hiv.gov/federal-response/pacha/about-pacha. I'm also the HIV Project Director at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of LGBTQ and those with HIV. I wrote why in Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/trump-doesnt-care-about-hiv-were-outta-here-626285

Proof: http://imgur.com/N07LxEH *WE'RE DONE! THANK YOU!

My follow up: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/20/health/trump-hiv-advisers-resigned/index.html

Comments: 31 • Responses: 6  • Date: 

Exmak14 karma

In your letter, you said that the new adminstration doesn't really care about HIV prevention plans..so did you try to have a serious conversation with the adminstration's officials about the consequences of being indifferent about this issue? And if you did (which is probable), were they that negative and careless in their response?

lambdalegal26 karma

So first, let me explain that communications between the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and the administration occur almost exclusively through written recommendations, sometimes supplemented by the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy taking things that he hears at meetings and bringing them to the administration's attention. Of course, there is no one in the job of the Director of ONAP right now, because the president hasn't appointed anyone, so that line of communication is not open.

We did send, after our March meeting, a letter to the administration introducing the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, describing the parameters of the epidemic today and making a series of recommendations for things we thought needed to happen—especially in the context of healthcare reform—in order to retain our ability to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

The response was from from a lower-level acting secretary at the Department of Health & Human Services, and it was perfunctory at best. Someone described it as "the kind of letter you get from your senator when you ask them to do something they have no intention of doing." So like, "thank you, we're so glad you wrote, and we'll take this into account."

We actually sent a second letter (even though we got a non-response to the first) that dealt specifically with HIV stigma reduction. This was a followup to some work that the council had been doing through the fall of last year, and we have yet to receive a response to that second letter. So yes, we have tried, but those responses and everything else we were seeing from this administration made it pretty clear that they were not interested in in engaging with us about HIV.

You know, we're dealing with someone here who by all accounts dumped his greatest mentor and a dear friend—Roy Cohn—shortly after he found out that he had an AIDS diagnosis. So it's not surprising that he, as president, doesn't seem to want to engage on the topic of HIV & AIDS.

motytrah9 karma

How does this administration's treatment to HIV/AIDS compare to the Bush and Obama administrations?

lambdalegal27 karma

It is night and day from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.

The Obama administration made HIV and AIDS a priority. 36 days into his administration, Obama had appointed someone to run the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. That person was immediately tasked with developing the first ever comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy, and that strategy was in place a year and a half after Obama entered office.

Along with that, President Obama tasked PACHA not only with helping to develop the first national HIV/AIDS strategy, but also with its implementation moving forward, and that is why the council was divided into subcommittees that aligned with the goals of the strategy.

President Obama supported the good work being done in the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout his administration—regularly holding meetings at the White House, marking various HIV/AIDS awareness days, and ensuring that the HIV/AIDS programs run by the federal government were adequately funded.

By contrast, Trump refused to talk with HIV advocates during the campaign. He took down the White House Office of National AIDS Policy website the day he took office, and it has yet to return. He has not appointed anyone to run the White House ONAP, which had a seat on the Domestic Policy Council under President Obama. His budget proposal cut important domestic HIV/AIDS programs and scaled-back on our commitment to fighting the epidemic globally. Finally, he has pursued, and championed, passage of a healthcare bill that would not only seriously affect our ability to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but will also result in ill health and premature death for some people living with HIV.

I don't think you could come up with a more stark contrast than their two approaches to HIV/AIDS.

The Bush Administration primarily focused on global HIV/AIDS funding and projects. It was valuable, but he more or less ignored the domestic epidemic.

talyn57 karma

What's the atmosphere of this admin? All I know is what the news says, and it's a bit troubling.

lambdalegal14 karma

I'm not sure I know any better than you do. It's kind of hard to say what the atmosphere is because the administration was not actually engaging with the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. They seemed shut-off from us, and in fact, told us not to direct our recommendations to the president (as had been our practice in the past) but merely to send them to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Then at our last meeting in March, there were rumors that there was someone from the White House in the room. But they were in the audience, and no one knew they were there, so it felt a little like we were being watched or monitored rather than being engaged with.

I'm afraid that your fears may be well-founded.

sans_the_comicc6 karma

You have any time, or all your time is work?

lambdalegal4 karma

So I was just listening to a continuing legal education course, and it talked about the importance of engaging in self-care and taking time for yourself.

And I thought I actually do a pretty good job of that. I would say that I work hard and play hard, so my life is pretty full, but I try to find a good balance.

malwayslooking5 karma

Has the President said anything about this since your resignations?

lambdalegal9 karma

The White House issued a statement on National HIV Testing Day, which was this past Tuesday. Hard to know whether it actually came from the president, but it was supposedly from the president. It didn't really say much except marking the day as National HIV Testing Day.

I think the only reason they issued that statement was because we had resigned the week before and they needed to look like they were engaged on HIV. There are only four things on the White House website about HIV: The first is something left over from the Obama administration. The second is something that the first lady of Panama said to Melania Trump. The third is one reference in the budget to Ryan White HIV/AIDS program. And the fourth is the transcript of Sean Spicer answering questions about our resignations.

So it's pretty clear that this White House is not engaging on this topic. Hopefully our resignations are going to force them to be a little more engaged going forward!

Gilbertify1 karma

What have they done to prove they don't care about HIV/AIDS?

lambdalegal3 karma

Please see this answer to user Exmak: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/6kiq3g/live_im_scott_schoettes_1_of_6_members_of_pacha/djme7dm/

Other than that, what evidence do you need? Would they need to slap a person living with HIV/AIDS in the face?