Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council have suddenly resigned, citing apathy towards the issues of people living with HIV and AIDS, officials with the group said yesterday.
“The situation is unacceptable,” Scott Schoettes, a Lambda Legal attorney and board member, wrote in an angry statement. “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,” the counselor noted, adding that Trump has displayed a “lack of understanding and concern”.
Along with Schoettes, five more of the Council’s 18 members–Lucy Bradley-Springer, Gina Brown, Ulysses Burley III, Michelle Ogle and Grissel Granados–also stepped down in protest.
Since taking office in January, the President has systematically erased all references to the LGBTQ community and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, from official White House business, and the Executive website.
Trump refused to acknowledge June as Pride Month, defunded and abolished the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), and declined to meet with the Council or any of its members.
The group’s only meeting this year, in March, during which members make recommendations to the White House, via the Secretary of Health and Human Services, ended with no action.
Schoettes criticized the President and the Republican Party for its distant attitude, and pointed out that such indifference would lead to greater suffering among those struggling with HIV and AIDS. “[The biggest losers] 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,” the advocate emphasized, “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.”
The White House declined to comment on the resignations.