Massachusetts: Loss of Funds a Concern for HIV, AIDS Services
August 19, 2011
Some local HIV/AIDS prevention services are getting hit by a federal AIDS strategy that shifts CDC prevention funding from areas with low infection rates to those with high and increasing rates. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) recently informed community groups of a $4.3 million cut in federal HIV prevention funds, including $2.3 million that must be slashed by January.
Springfield-based Tapestry Health could reduce its needle-exchange program in Northampton. The only Western Massachusetts NEP, it served nearly 1,000 clients and provided 79,000 clean syringes last year, said Leslie Laurie, founder and CEO of the group, which also has offices in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington.
"This is the epidemic of our lifetime, and what they're doing is walking away from it," Laurie said. "We know, because of the [NEP], that the rate of HIV in Western Massachusetts is less than would be expected," she said.
Tapestry could also be forced to cut back its mobile HIV testing service, which operates in the Berkshires, Pittsfield and remote parts of the county.
The Pittsfield-based Medical Center HIV clinic, which has not been notified of any impending cuts, offers HIV testing. The Berkshires area has sufficient testing coverage, said Kelly Pizzi, director of Berkshire County Red Cross HIV/AIDS Program.
Tapestry is the only agency in Western Massachusetts affected by this round of de-funding, a DPH spokesperson said. Tapestry also anticipates being hit by a $1.5 million cut the Legislature made to the state AIDS budget, Laurie said.
The Berkshire Eagle
08.16.2011; Amanda Korman
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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