'Disappointment and concern:' Advocates respond to mass firing of HIV/AIDS council

'Disappointment and concern:' Advocates respond to mass firing of HIV/AIDS council.

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - There are still questions remaining about the mass firing of everyone serving on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS.

The group was made up of everyone from doctors and lawyers to community members and people living with the virus.

REPORT: Trump fires HIV/AIDS council 

Their jobs were to advise the White House on how to respond to the epidemic.

The president has the right to appoint whoever he wants, but that is a concern for some people in the DC-area.

“The only reason I’m doing this work is because some of the closet people in my life are living with HIV,” Devin Barrington-Ward, president of Impulse Group DC, said.

For Barrington-Ward, the firing of members on the president’s HIV and AIDS advisory council was personal.

Last year the district reported a sharp decline in new HIV cases, but advocates said minority groups are still being hit hard.

“Black gay men have a 1-in-2 chance of becoming positive in their lifetimes,” Barrington-Ward explained.

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS (PACHA ) can have up to 25 members who give recommendations on the National HIV and AIDS Strategy.

The council members are not paid.

All 16 members on the council received letters in the mail telling them they are out of a job. 

“I think the resounding emotion that a lot of folks felt was a feeling of disappointment and concern,” Barrington-Ward told WUSA9

“It was a big shock,” Lucy Bradley-Springer told WUSA9 on Facetimed from her home in Denver.

She was on the advisory council but resigned with five other members last year in protest of Trump’s views and decisions on health care.

“I just felt like the people who were being appointed were not going to do things to make things better for people living with HIV,” Bradley-Springer explained.
 
Bradley-Springer and others are concerned President Trump will make appointments based on politics and not public health.

“Religious based sexual health policies,” Barrington-Ward said “So abstinence-only sexual education in public schools, and using religious doctrine as the guide for public health. We know in public health that that’s not good.”

“Hopefully the people that are appointed will be people who understand HIV and who are dedicated to making the lives of people living with HIV better,” Bradley-Springer said.

It is not clear when the new appointments might happen.

WUSA9 reached out to the White House for comment, but a response was not given on Tuesday.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the council just ended at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS was founded in 1995 under President Bill Clinton.
 

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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