The Trump Administration is weirdly disinterested in the HIV epidemic in the US. And that’s the biggest understatement that I have ever written.
President Trump fired the remaining members of the Presidential HIV Council one year ago. The Office of National AIDS Policy has been empty since the beginning of his administration. (I called the day Trump was inaugurated to see if the office was still open and I left a voicemail. I have not received a return call. Shocker!?!?)
Money intended for funding the US fight against the epidemic at home and internationally has been chipped away and it appears that HHS is just trying to be quiet about it all—almost fly under the radar. Who can blame them? They are probably doing the best thing at the moment, honestly.
I inquired to HHS about PACHA (Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS) and the status of Kaye Hayes.
Here were my questions:
- Is Kaye Hayes still the executive director of PACHA?
- How many members are currently on PACHA? Who are they?
- What is the current status of PACHA?
- When was the last time that PACHA provided guidance or input to the administration? Can I receive a copy of that?
- When is the next planned meeting?
- And if no members are currently on the council, is there any guidance being given to the current administration? If so, by whom?
Here’s the official response by the HHS spokesperson:
“Kaye Hayes is still the executive director of Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA), as well as Deputy Director of the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy. In response to your other questions, we do not have any new information to share with you at this time, but we will contact you as soon as we do.”
I interpret this as no news. And silence. Not good!
This Is Not Going Well
When you think about the administration’s ‘less than friendly’ welcoming of immigrants and those seeking asylum in the U.S., or those visiting from other countries and remembering the nightmare Trump has put many through by changing travel rules and instituting immediate travel bans—it’s just so damn overwhelming. Honestly, I can’t even remember all the bad stuff.
Here’s the real tea about it: It’s only been two years! Can we all make it two more years?
YES! Yes, we can. And we will.
When Trump became President, I wrote about the best ways for us all to survive. Other popular websites in the HIV space called it the Trump-apocalypse.
Read: 10 Ways To Survive A Trump Administration
So, how we continue to survive this administration?
- We are not the victims. We are must never view our advocacy as such. We are strong, healthy, and marginalized. But we will survive!
- We must engage the administration at every opportunity—not just complain. We were caught off our game when he was elected. We better prepare better for the 2020 election.
- We must have a message of hope, based in science and demonstrate what we are advocating for—to live well. #UequalsU
- We still need to support national ASOs and organizations like ADAP Advocacy Association.
- We need some of our leadership to change. We must identify new leadership to be our community voices. And we must stop allowing a small caucus to say they speak for us when they have missed the boat largely with U=U.
- We must lean on each other when we need it. Sean McKenna calls it a buddy program. Get a buddy!!!
- We must recognize disparities and work together to end them… and we must make room at the table for others who have been silenced or ignored. But we must not allow this to drive wedges within our community. We need to work together as one unit!
- We need to ask for personal help when we need it. We are advocates and many are long term survivors. But we must allow our pride to disappear when we need help.
It has been a hell of two years, but it’s been a hell of an epidemic and we are going to make it!
I love you all!
Let’s do this!!!