The Trump Administration has recently announced that it will be shutting down an HIV research contract because the researchers use aborted fetus tissue, a move that was praised by the Family Research Council, a well-known anti-LGBTQ hate group, according to LGBTQ Nation. This is not the first time that something like this has happened, as the Trump Administration also halted HIV research last year.
Currently, there are 200 research projects going on at universities that receive money from the National Institute of Health that will be reviewed by ethics advisory boards which were appointed by the secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar. The HHS has also announced that a $2 million a year HIV research contract with the University of California has been canceled.
Researchers are understandably upset by this decision UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood said: “Today’s action ends a 30-year partnership with the NIH to use specially designed models that could be developed only through the use of fetal tissue to find a cure for HIV.” He also mentioned that he believes that this move was politically motivated and in no way scientific. I am inclined to agree with him, as this definitely seems to me that the Trump Administration’s main goal was to maintain its support from Evangelicals.
Additionally, Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin said: “The ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening and debilitating diseases.” However, and unsurprisingly, the president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, has voiced his approval of this decision, calling the research “ghoulish” and a waste of taxpayers’ money as he believes that there has been very little progress.
According to the American Medical Association, this type of research has resulted in the “development of a number of important research and medical advances, such as the development of the polio vaccine.” Fetal tissue research has also been used to study the mechanisms of viral infections, diagnose viral and inherited diseases, and develop transplant therapies for a number of conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease.
HIV is a devastating disease that disproportionately affects gay men and by shutting down research on the virus, the Trump Administration is putting a great deal of Americans at risk for complications and further contamination. HIV research has gone far in its success, as medications exist now that renders the virus undetectable or a pill that significantly reduces the chance of infection. But now because so many research facilities may be shut down, progress in this country for developing a cure will effectively come to a grinding halt, all because the Trump Administration needs the support of Evangelicals.