The Trump administration has terminated the remaining 16 members of the president's advisory council on HIV/AIDS as it prepares to appoint new members. No explanation was given by the president regarding their terminations, although some expect the firings are politically motivated.
The terminated members, the website said, were given the option to reapply after Tuesday.
"Like any administration, they want their own people there", Maldonado told the Washington Blade. "The Obama administration dismissed the George W. Bush administration appointees to PACHA in order to bring in new voices".
Cecilia Chung, an Obama-era appointee who left voluntarily after her term expired earlier this year, echoed these concerns.
Schoettes and five other members stepped down from the panel in June, claiming in a scathing letter that Trump "simply does not care" about HIV and the LGBTQ community.
HIV/AIDS activist and senior attorney for Lambda Lega, Scott Schoettes, tweeted about it. Fangerous that #Trump and Co. "(Pence esp.) are eliminating few remaining people willing to push back against harmful policies, like abstinence-only sex ed", he wrote on Twitter. "One of our recommendations was to endorse the national HIV/AIDS strategy, which was developed by the Obama administration ... but reflected the work of a very diverse group of people".
"I can only speculate", Maldonado told the Blade.
Trump's relationship with the council has been beset by controversy, with six staffers quitting in June amidst discontent as to how the president has been handling the epidemic of HIV/AIDS.
Maldonado said "ideological and philosophical differences" with the administration are a potential reason for the terminations.
Schoettes went on to say that Trump was "executing a purge" by many of his actions, including those unrelated to HIV. However, according to him, "a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration". "I think this is a President and an administration that doesn't value dialogue and dissenting views".
'Many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, ' Maldonado revealed. "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".
Trump renewed PACHA with an executive order in September of 2017, but-Johnson notes-his "fiscal year 2018 budget proposal also sought massive cuts to HIV/AIDS programs, including $150 million on HIV/AIDS programs at the Centers of Disease Control and more than $1 billion in cuts from global programs like PEPFAR Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria".
Ben Plumley, Chief Executive Officer of Pangaea, an global HIV organization that works with funders and national governments to help at-risk populations, has said that if the US lets HIV go unchecked at home and overseas, it will destabilize each country's national security.