COLUMN: Six members of PACHA resign due to presidential apathy

Six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS resigned last week, citing the president’s apathy toward treating the disease as their principal reason for doing so.

PAHCA was created in 1995 to provide information and give suggestions to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources on how to best direct funding toward the HIV/AIDS crisis. This led to the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in 2010, which was later revised and re-implemented in 2015 under President Obama.

“As advocates for people living with HIV, we have dedicated our lives to combating this disease and no longer feel we can do so effectively within the confines of an advisory body to a president who simply does not care,” Scott Schoettes, a now former PACHA member, wrote in an article for Newsweek.

Unbeknownst to President Trump, HIV/AIDS isn’t an antiquated issue. Extensive research and progressive policies aimed at combating the disease should still be a priority in this day and age.

By failing to develop a strategy to minimize the rate of HIV/AIDS, the Trump administration opens the door for an even bigger epidemic to occur.

Unfortunately, and inaccurately, HIV is often characterized by the general public as being exclusive to the LGBT+ community, select countries in Africa and the spread of AIDS.

However, with the opiate crisis sweeping the nation, HIV and other blood-borne diseases are on the rise, especially in Indiana.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, poor, rural communities in Indiana, where prevalence was once low, have seen an increase in HIV infection rates due to the use of opioid oxymorphone.

For example, prior to 2014, there were roughly 13,000 people with HIV in Indiana. However, between December 2014 and July 2015, there were 170 new cases in Scott County alone, almost all of which were from residents of Austin, Indiana, according to the International Antiviral Association.

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