Massachusetts: Department of Public Health Cuts Services After State Chops AIDS Budget
July 7, 2003
Massachusetts' nearly 40 percent cut in AIDS spending over the last few years could lead to a rise in infections and a spike in deaths in a few years, service providers say. After spending $51.1 million on HIV/AIDS programs in fiscal 2001, the state cut spending to $41.4 million in 2002 and $35.8 million in 2003. Last month, a legislative committee cut Gov. Mitt Romney's request for funding by nearly $4 million to $31.9 million for fiscal 2004, which began July 1. More than 20,000 Massachusetts residents have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, and state officials estimate that 8,000 more are infected.
The Department of Public Health is prioritizing counseling and testing services over some of the client support services that cover child care for people with HIV/AIDS, as well as respite care for family members who care for people with HIV/AIDS.
The Boston-area AIDS Action Committee is taking a $100,000 cut in state funding for services for people who are infected, said Magnolia Contreras, the agency's director of public policy. "This will obviously affect the number of people who find out their status and get into health care," she said. AIDS Project Worchester, which has lost about $400,000 in state funding in the past two years, will cut two of its programs to absorb the latest $68,000 cut, Executive Director Edla L. Bloom said.
Contreras said Massachusetts has had one of the lowest AIDS mortality rates in the country, a distinction that is in danger. The loss of anonymous testing sites that counsel and refer people to medical care will deter many people from seeking testing, she said. "It won't be immediate," she said. "It will take time to catch up to tracking the folks that would be getting infected now."
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.