Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

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The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) was a commission formed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 to provide recommendations on the US government's response to the AIDS epidemic. President George W. Bush and Secretary Tommy G. Thompson renewed the Council's charter on July 19, 2001. All ten existing members of the Council were dismissed by President Donald Trump on 28 December 2017, following the resignation of six members in June 2017 in protest at Trump's health policies.[1]


The Council was not the first Presidential inquiry into HIV. In 1987, Ronald Reagan appointed the President's Commission on the HIV Epidemic (1987–88) to investigate the AIDS epidemic. This was followed by the National Commission on AIDS (1989-1993).


Current members[edit]

There are no current members as of 29 December 2017

Former members[edit]


Critics have said they lack confidence in PACHA and note that the Council as reorganized under President Bush held only two meetings in 2002 and issued only five recommendations to the White House. By comparison, the President's Commission on the HIV Epidemic (Watkins Commission) submitted 597 recommendations to the Reagan Administration.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report in February 2004 entitled Scientific Integrity in Policymaking that said that President Bush intentionally appointed under-qualified individuals to PACHA as part of a broader effort to manipulate the government's scientific advisory system by providing the appearance of expert advice while controlling the advice given.

Critics pointed to the appointment of Dr. Joseph McIlhaney, a Texas-based doctor known for rejecting the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and for his advocacy of abstinence-only programs despite negligible evidence that they reduce pregnancy rates among young people.

Six members of the committee resigned in June 2017, citing as the reason that the president, "has no strategy to address the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic, seeks zero input from experts to formulate HIV policy, and—most concerning—pushes legislation that will harm people living with HIV and halt or reverse important gains made in the fight against this disease". In December 2017 Trump dismissed all the remaining 16 members. Gabriel Maldonado, a former member of PACHA, said in a Washington Post article "Like any administration, they want their own people there," identifying "ideological and philosophical differences" and that many of the remaining members, including her, were appointed by former President Barack Obama. "I was co-chair of the disparities committee," Maldonado added, "so much of my advocacy and policy references surrounded vulnerable populations, addressing issuing of diverse communities, specifically looking at the impacts of the LGBT community, namely, the disproportionate impact of HIV and AIDS to people of color, gay men, transgender women...and a lot of those key vulnerable populations are not being prioritized in this administration." Newsweek stated that there were fears that "the charter for PACHA will be re-written with renewed focus on abstinence and religious, non-evidence based public health approaches." [3]

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