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After a Year of Silence and Speculation, The Trump Administration Names Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS Co-Chairs

For nearly a full year, the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) has sat empty, with HIV advocates wondering when, or even if, new members would be selected. As of today, PACHA remains empty, but the Trump administration has selected new co-chairs for the Council and set a date in three months’ time for the first PACHA meeting since 2017.

During his speech at this week’s National Ryan White Conference, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced the selection of two new co-chairs for PACHA: Carl Schmid, who is currently the Deputy Executive Director of The AIDS Institute, and Dr. John Wiesman, who is serving as the Secretary of Health for the state of Washington.

Mr. Schmid has been a fixture in the federal HIV policy world for roughly a decade and a half, having previously served on PACHA from 2007 to 2009 when he chaired its domestic HIV subcommittee. More recently, Schmid has worked as the Policy lead for The AIDS Institute alongside advocates from AIDS United, NMAC, NASTAD, and the National Coalition of STD Directors as part of the HIV, STD and Hepatitis Policy Partnership, a coalition of five of the nation’s leading organizations focused on ending the HIV, STD, and viral hepatitis epidemics in the United States.

Dr. Wiesman was appointed Washington State Secretary of Health in 2013 by Governor Jay Inslee and has been instrumental in implementing the state’s ambitious End AIDS Washington Campaign, which aims to reduce new HIV diagnoses among Washingtonians by 50% by 2020. Dr. Wiesman has been involved in the fight to end the HIV epidemic for over 30 years and was one of the first public health officials to be trained in HIV testing and counselling in the state of Connecticut in 1986.

There has been no word yet as to who will make up the rest of PACHA, but HHS has stated that information on that matter will be coming soon, according to a report from The Washington Blade. And, while the Trump administration is keeping PACHA’s membership close to the vest, they will have to provide more information soon if they want the next PACHA meeting to go on as planned.

Scheduled for March 14-15, the meeting would be the first since the Council met in August of 2017, shortly after 6 of PACHA’s 22 members resigned from the Council, citing a lack of engagement from the administration as a primary cause and stating that they felt they would be more effective advocating for HIV policy change outside the confines of PACHA.

It remains to be seen whether the concerns of previous PACHA members and many HIV advocates concerning the lack of meaningful engagement with the community by the Trump administration will be addressed, but the naming of 2 respected HIV advocates like Mr. Schmid and Dr. Wiesman as PACHA Co-Chairs is a step in the right direction.

AIDS United will keep you updated on the latest developments concerning PACHA and HIV policy within the Trump administration. To stay informed, be sure to sign up for our weekly Policy Update.

Posted By: AIDS United, Policy Department - Friday, December 14, 2018

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