Why isn’t HIV/AIDS policy a priority for the White House?
It’s been over two weeks now since Mr. Trump was sworn in as President. During this time period, we’ve done our best to keep an eye on various federal websites that are of importance to the public, particularly folks who identify as LGBTQ.
As some readers may recall, almost immediately after he took the oath of office as POTUS, certain pages stared disappearing from the White House website.
One particular destination point was the White House Office of National Aids Policy (ONAP).
To hear the administration and his supporters tell it, the removal of such pages are “normal” as part of the archive process whenever a new president begins his term.
Perhaps this is true. Maybe things are still being “archived”. We honestly have no earthly idea.
But here is what we do know – at the time of this posting, the White House Office of National AIDS Policy page is still gone.
To be fair, it can take time for a new administration to staff positions, fill key roles and set strategy.
Still, that doesn’t explain why there’s no mention of ONAP appears on the White House website.
People have been asking questions about its fate for some time now, including the folks at LAMBDA Legal.
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) January 20, 2017
Our question is simply: Why not put up a temporary page now so that people know something is in the works?
Here at the blog, we’re worried about the Trump administration’s apparent lack of focus on the topic of HIV/AIDS. As a candidate, he said very little about this issue.
And since his swearing in, we can’t find anything related to his commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS either.
In the not so distant past, a rumor started spreading that suggested the White House was scrubbing the ONAP office entirely (See this post at Kenneth in the 212).
Now, legitimate questions about Mr. Trump’s policies on HIV/AIDS both domestically and abroad are starting to be asked, as mentioned in a piece published by the Advocate.
Folks, we are not a political site. We’ve never tried to be. However, some things just can’t be swept under the rug.
According to the CDC website, nearly 1.8 million people are living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. And 1 in 8 people are unaware they are HIV+.
That’s a BIG deal.
We know all too well from history the consequences of a president not having a coherent policy on this HIV. On the flipside, we also are aware that when the White House makes this topic a priority, it makes a huge difference in improving lives – and in some cases, literally saving them.
In the Advocate piece, Jeff Crowley, former director of ONAP under Mr. Obama, stated there’s no indication that the office has been done away with just yet.
But there’s also no indication – at least right now – that it’s coming back.
FYI: The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) coordinates the continuing domestic efforts to implement the President’s National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
It’s been around since 1994, starting under the Clinton administration and continuing through both terms of the Bush’s presidency and Obama’s.
This is a critical office within the U.S. government, serving as a partner to numerous HIV/AIDS education, healthcare and advocacy groups.
We honestly don’t know Mr. Trump’s plans for ONAP. We’ve reached out to a number of different organizations on this topic and they don’t seem to know either.
What would help clear things up is for the White House to simply speak to this issue in a clear and transparent way.
It doesn’t have to be much – perhaps just a few statements that affirms the president’s commitment to HIV/AIDS related issues. Even a small mention (for now) on the official W.H. website.
If the rumors happen to be true – that the administration is doing away with ONAP – this needs to be revealed.
If untrue (and we certainly hope this is the case) the Trump administration must immediately make the ONAP page and the issue of HIV/AIDS a priority.
Too many lives depend on it.