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U.S. News

Massachusetts Cuts Jails' HIV Programs

May 17, 2012

Due to federal funding reductions, Massachusetts has cut $1.25 million for HIV testing and education in county jails and houses of correction. Sheriffs warn the decision will eliminate HIV educator positions, curb HIV testing, and end the monitoring of inmates by infectious-disease experts. The cuts, effective July 1, will not affect state prisons.

"I'm very concerned," said Thomas M. Hodgson, Bristol County's sheriff. "We want them to be tested for HIV because they need to be aware if they have it, and, number two, how to manage it."

The federal cuts are being phased in over five years, but already Massachusetts has slashed $2.3 million. That has led to the elimination of eight positions in the state HIV/AIDS office, HIV testing campaigns, and training for and some contracts with community-based service providers.

"The decision to reduce these services is driven by the loss of funding, not the quality of the services," said Kevin Cranston, director of the state Bureau of Infectious Diseases. Jails tended to have higher HIV-positive rates when injecting drug use was a more common route of infection, Cranston said, but new cases are increasingly seen among men who have sex with men. Public health officials are asking HIV prevention groups to provide outreach in jails; however, many of these providers are financially stressed themselves, he said.'

In one instance, the HIV diagnosis of an inmate led public health officials to track down eight other HIV cases among his non-incarcerated contacts, said Matthew Robitaille, HIV coordinator for the Bristol County sheriff's office, whose position likely will be eliminated.

Back to other news for May 2012

Adapted from:
Boston Globe
05.14.2012; Maria Cramer

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.
See Also
CDC Cuts Take More Than $1 Million From HIV Prevention and Education Programs in Massachusetts County Jails
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
HIV Prevention & the Incarcerated

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