Congressman Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a top member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today led a group of House Democrats in responding to several alarming resignations from the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).
Six HIV/AIDS experts left PACHA last month, citing their belief that the advisory group can no longer effectually fight HIV/AIDS under President Trump. The experts cited “the many signs that the Trump Administration does not take the on-going epidemic or the needs of people living with HIV seriously” – including the Administration’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act – among their reasons for stepping down. They also called upon Members of Congress to keep up the fight against HIV/AIDS and counter the Administration’s harmful policies.
In a letter to these six experts, Engel and more than a dozen House Democrats reaffirmed their commitment to ending HIV/AIDS and acknowledged the indispensable role the U.S. government must play in this fight.
“These resignations are the latest evidence of the Trump Administration’s inability to protect Americans’ health,” Engel said. “The American public, especially people living with HIV, need to know that they have willing and engaged partners in Congress who are committed to making an AIDS-free generation a reality. I’m proud to partner with my Democratic colleagues in sending that message.”
The full text of this letter, including a complete list of signers, is below:
July 7, 2017
Mr. Scott A. Schoettes
Counsel and HIV Project Director
105 W. Adams, Suite 2600
105 W. Adams, Suite 2600
Chicago, IL 60603-6303
Dear Mr. Schoettes,
As Members of Congress committed to defeating HIV/AIDS, we are gravely concerned by your account of the Trump Administration’s inattention to this disease and those it affects, as well as the serious ramifications of such apathy.
As you know, the United States has made tremendous strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Between 2005 and 2014, the estimated number of new infections among Americans fell by nearly one-fifth. More than half of Americans diagnosed with HIV are virally suppressed, effectively reducing their risk of transmitting the virus to others to zero.
The engagement of the U.S. government has been instrumental in securing these gains. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, rates of insurance coverage among people living with HIV improved significantly. Federal funding provided through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program allows local governments to better care for people living with HIV/AIDS in our districts. Globally, U.S. leadership, especially through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has allowed nearly 11.5 million people worldwide to begin life-saving treatment.
However, our work is far from finished. More than 1.2 million Americans live with HIV, and 13 percent do not know their status. In addition, a number of communities remain disproportionately affected by HIV, including minorities, transgender people, and gay and bisexual men.
It is imperative that our federal government remain devoted to ending HIV/AIDS and clear-eyed about the challenges we have yet to overcome. Without the commitment of the federal government, we cannot hope to end pervasive disparities, identify Americans who do not know their HIV status, or connect them with the treatment that will allow them to live long and healthy lives.
Given the considerable work ahead, we were disheartened by your account of the Administration’s inattention to HIV/AIDS. We share your concern that this Administration’s complacency and support for dangerous policies, such as the American Health Care Act, will impede the historic progress our nation has made.
We, as Members of Congress, remain fully committed to the goal of an AIDS-free generation and will oppose policies that would harm people living with HIV. In addition, we welcome your recommendations as to how we might better support the fight against HIV/AIDS. While Congress cannot supplant an Administration’s enthusiastic commitment, we will make every effort to carry on our nation’s important work to defeat HIV/AIDS once and for all.
We thank you for your public service on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and look forward to continued engagement with the advocacy community to advance our shared goals.
Eliot L. Engel
Frank Pallone, Jr.
James P. McGovern
Bonnie Watson Coleman
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Donald M. Payne, Jr.
Nydia M. Velázquez
C.C.: Lucy Bradley-Springer; Gina Brown; Ulysses W. Burley III; Michelle Ogle; Grissel Granados.