When President Donald Trump announced that Katy Talento would serve on the White House’s Domestic Policy Council as the health policy adviser, the pick was criticized by women’s health groups because of her belief that birth control pills cause miscarriages and abortions. But as BuzzFeed reports, Talento also has a history of attacking HIV/AIDS research.
Under the George W. Bush administration, Talento was part of an effort backed by the Traditional Values Coalition to defund 150 HIV/AIDS research grants, including $100 million from the National Institutes of Health.
In one effort, Talento claimed that U.S. funding was going to support Russian prostitution. The one grant in question, in reality, funded a study designed to look at the rates of HIV, hepatitis C and sexually transmitted infections among Moscow sex workers. Research did not promote the legalization of prostitution or the recruitment of prostitutes, BuzzFeed reports.
But the accusations meant that researchers were forced to spend months responding to the “harassment,” causing scientists to worry that their work would be politicized.
Trump’s appointment of Talento “raises a lot of alarms,” former Congressman Henry Waxman (D–Calif.) told BuzzFeed. Waxman fought off the efforts under Bush to eliminate HIV/AIDS research funding. “I hope this [Trump] administration is not going to roll back the clock…on what we can do to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.”