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Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

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Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS
Agency overview
FormedJuly 27, 1995; 28 years ago (1995-07-27)
JurisdictionU.S. Government
Agency executives
  • John Weisman, Co-Chair
  • Carl Schmid, Co-Chair

The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) advises the White House and the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the US government's response to the AIDS epidemic. The commission was formed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and each president since has renewed the council's charter.[1]

Six members resigned in protest of President Donald Trump's health policies in June 2017,[2] and the remaining ten members were dismissed by Trump on 28 December 2017. While PACHA did not meet in 2018, it was restaffed in 2019[3] and reconvened in March, June, and October 2019.[4][5]


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).[citation needed]


Current members[edit]

On Dec. 11, 2018, Secretary Alex Azar of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services nominated Carl Schmid and John Weisman to serve as PACHA co-chairs [6] when the council reconvened on March 14–15, 2019.[7] Schmid is deputy executive director of The AIDS Institute, and a longtime leader and activist on HIV issues.[8] Weisman is the secretary of health for Washington state and past president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers.[9]

The current PACHA members are:[10]

Office Image Incumbent Career and notes In office
Co-chair John Wiesman Washington State Secretary of Health 2018–present
Co-chair Carl Schmid Deputy director at the AIDS Institute 2018–present
Member Michael Saag Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research 2019–present
Member Robert A. Schwartz Professor and head of dermatology at Rutgers University 2019–present
Member Marc Meachem Head of External Affairs at ViiV Healthcare 2019–present
Member Gregg Alton Chief patient officer at Gilead Sciences 2019–present
Member Ada Stewart Lead provider at Eau Claire Cooperative Health Centers 2019–present
Member Wendy Holman Chief executive officer at Ridgeback Biotherapeutics 2019–present
Member Rafaelé Roberto Narváez Director of health programs at Latinos Salud 2019–present
Member Justin C. Smith Behavioral scientist, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University 2019–present
Member John Sapero Office chief, HIV prevention program, Arizona Department of Health Services 2019–present

Former members[edit]

Through 2018, the HIV.gov website (run by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) was not updated and continued to display two previous PACHA staff: B. Kaye Hayes, MPA, executive director, and Caroline Talev, MPA, public health analyst.[11]


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."[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CHARTER : PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HIVIAIDS" (PDF). Files.hiv.gov. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  2. ^ "Trump administration fires all members of HIV/AIDS advisory council". The Washington Post. 29 December 2017.
  3. ^ Johnson, Chris (14 March 2019). "Trump restaffs AIDS council 15 months after firing all members". Washington Blade. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  4. ^ "Meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS". Federal Register. 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  5. ^ "About PACHA". HIV.gov. 2019-11-15. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  6. ^ "HHS Secretary Azar's Remarks to the National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment". HIV.gov. December 12, 2018. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  7. ^ "Meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS". Federal Register. 7 December 2018. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Who We Are - The AIDS Institute". Theaidsinstitute.org. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Secretary of Health: Washington State Department of Health". Doh.wa.gov. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  10. ^ "Members & Staff". HIV.gov. 2019-10-11. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  11. ^ "PACHA Members & Staff". HIV.gov. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Chickasaw Nation Ambassador Charles W. Blackwell – a Man of Vision". KXII. 2013-01-04. Archived from the original on 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2013-01-20.
  13. ^ "'This Man Is a Monster': Trump Under Fire for Dismissing Entire HIV/AIDS Council by FedEx Letter". Common Dreams. Retrieved 8 March 2019.

External links[edit]