A local LGBTQ organization plans to fight back against President Donald Trump after his abrupt decision to remove all of the members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
Impulse DC and members of the board learned of Trump’s decision in late December after receiving letters in the mail from the administration outlining their dismissal.
This move came on the heels of news that Trump would be proposing over $200 million in cuts to federal HIV programs in the budget he sent to Congress, which among other things, would eliminate the Minority AIDS Initiative.
“Donald Trump’s presidency is a public health crisis and this recent action confirm this,” said Devin Barrington-Ward, president of Impulse DC. “In the face of CDC projections that one in two Black gay men and one in 13 D.C. residents will become HIV positive within their lifetimes, it is unconscionable that we would have a president that would not only propose massive cuts to HIV programs but would also remove the entire PACHA membership.
“Many of the council members for PACHA, like Bishop O.C. Allen and Gabriel Maldonado, both Black gay men, came directly from communities who are disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic and they helped write and revise the first-ever National HIV/AIDS Strategy under the Obama administration,” he said. “To lose this body’s expertise and counsel at the White House on HIV issues threatens to unravel years of progress and our collective efforts to end HIV within our lifetimes.”
Impulse DC said that sources close to the decision suspect that the charter for PACHA will be rewritten, membership reduced, and for there to renewed focus on abstinence and religious, non-evidence based public health approaches.
Impulse DC plans to call on national and local HIV advocacy groups, AIDS service organizations and clinics serving people living with HIV to mobilize and register their networks of clients and volunteers to vote ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
“Now is not the time for complacency,” Barrington-Ward said. “Every organization serving people living with HIV and fighting to end this epidemic must galvanize their networks of clients, staff, and volunteers to resist and fight back against these dangerous HIV policy decisions.
“And the best way to fight back and resist is to ensure that the 1.2 million people living with HIV and the communities most impacted by the epidemic are registered to vote and informed and engaged about the importance of participating in the 2018 midterm elections,” he said. “It’s very simple — if you do not want to go back to the early and deadliest days of the epidemic, then you must vote. If you want to end HIV within our lifetimes, then you must vote in 2018 and 2020.”