White House HIV/AIDS Advocates See No Point in Working With Trump Anymore

Image of the White House on World AIDS Day 2014, via AP.
Image of the White House on World AIDS Day 2014, via AP.

There were high hopes at the beginning of the Trump Administration that we’d elected a bumblefuck who didn’t know how to do his job. That way, smarter people could do it for him. The right seemed to understand this; there was Steve Bannon calling him a “blunt instrument” during the campaign, and then there were the executive orders (just in general). But from the left, there was also the dubious fast friendship with Elon Musk and the whistful Ivanka savior fantasy. Perhaps these four years were going to be a Jedi mind trick, of sorts.


Well, as Musk, and Trump’s allies (including his cabinet and press team) have quickly discovered, he’s just a belligerently stupid asshole. The President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS concur.

Scott Schoettes, who’s been on the council since 2014, had misgivings since the day President Trump took office, when The Office of National AIDS Policy webpage was taken down. Schoettes told The Washington Post:

I started to think, was it going to be useful or wise or would it be possible to work with this administration? Still, I made a decision to stick it out and see what we could do.


The answer is no, working with Donald Trump is useless.

In a damning article in Newsweek titled “Trump Doesn’t Care About HIV. We’re Outta Here,” Schoettes explains why he and five colleagues gave up on the idea of “sticking it out,” read: mitigating disaster. While many of the public aren’t fully aware of facts about HIV, it turns out that the President needs to possess a basic understanding of the issue:

[I]t is not acceptable for the U.S. President to be unaware of these realities, to set up a government that deprioritizes fighting the epidemic and its causes, or to implement policies and support legislation that will reverse the gains made in recent years.

Trump refused to meet with HIV advocates during the campaign, Schoettes writes. He never appointed a director of White House Office of National AIDS Policy. By comparison, Obama’s was appointed in little over a month and made the country’s first comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy within a year and a half.

Most tragically, Schoettes knows what will happen if Obamacare is repealed and what it will mean for the approximately 1.1 million people living with AIDS in the US, as of 2014. He writes that only 40 percent of people with HIV have access to life-saving medications.


At this writing, Republican senators are drafting a secret bill to repeal Obamacare.

A blunt instrument is a blunt instrument: an inanimate lump wielded by obstructionists with no function other than to smash things.


You know what else is a blunt instrument? A dick.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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My students do not have meaningful memories of the AIDS crisis at its highest pitch — before the “cocktail” treatment was introduced in the 90s, for sure, HIV/AIDS was an automatic death sentence with a very short horizon. So I have to explain things like ACT UP, Larry Kramer, etc. It’s not as if AIDS went away, of course, but back in the 80s it was the goddamn apocalypse every single day,with your guts being twisted in a knot witnessing the carnage, and the Republicans in power deliberately not giving a shit. It took Reagan SIX FUCKING YEARS to even utter the word AIDS in public. If the Republicans are letting AIDS ravage the population again with a vengeance, what else are they going to bring back? Smallpox? Dropsy? Scrofula?