Connecticut HIV Program Loses Funding; Testing Service Denied as State Distributes Limited Resources
June 24, 2008
By next week, an HIV testing and counseling program run from East Hartford's Town Hall will close its doors, the result of a poor showing in grant proposal competition. Funded by the state Department of Public Health (DPH), the outreach has tested hundreds of people during the past four years.
This year there was intense competition among testing providers, and the application submitted for the East Hartford program was not as comprehensive or thorough as that of other applicants, said DPH officials.
"That's why they didn't get funding," said Chris Andresen, DPH's public health services manager. About $1.2 million was set aside for Hartford County, and agencies there were requesting more than $3.2 million, he said. All applications were judged by independent panels, he added.
"I don't have a professional grant writer, but I do have a lot of people who rely on me to be tested," said Tracy Calloway, director of the program. "To me, that should be the basis for determining who gets funded, not who turned in the most polished application." The doors will shut June 30, leaving many of East Hartford's at-risk population, including IV drug users and gay men, without access to a local test provider, she said.
The only remaining testing site on the east side of the Connecticut River will be at the Hockanum Valley Community Council in Vernon. However, its focus will be mostly on Tolland County, said David O'Rourke, who heads the council's testing program. While it is accessible by bus, Calloway predicts many of her patients will not have the means to make the trip to Vernon.
6.22.2008; Matt Burgard, Hilary Waldman