Policy & Politics
Massachusetts: Support Offered for HIV Funding
May 5, 2011
Hundreds of people gathered at the State House on Tuesday to urge legislators to preserve HIV prevention outreach funding in the budget. Advocates said the programs have helped Massachusetts achieve some of the sharpest declines in HIV infections in the nation, but their funding has been cut by $4.6 million in the past two years.
Last week, the House boosted the HIV prevention and community outreach allocation to $33.6 million total, about $500,000 greater than for fiscal 2011.
Several lawmakers showed up in support of the advocates, who were mobilized by Project ABLE.
"Because of people like you and the work you do, we can continue to reach out and provide support to those who need it most," said Senate President Therese Murray. "As the Senate goes through its budget debate, I'm sure that we will be able to do the very best we can" to safeguard the funding, she said.
From 1999 to 2008, the number of people in Massachusetts living with HIV/AIDS increased 42 percent, while the rate of new infections decreased 59 percent. Since 2005, new HIV cases have fallen 37 percent. Preliminary data show fewer than 500 new HIV diagnoses for 2009.
"That's a big breakthrough, because it shows the program we have is working," said Mary Ann Hart, coordinator for Project ABLE. State cuts have limited HIV testing access, as well as services that enable people to continue living at home instead of an institution, advocates say.
"Treatment is much more effective, and people are living longer and the quality of life is really quite good," said Emerson Miller, who was diagnosed 18 years ago.
Reps. Gloria Fox (D-Boston) and Carl Sciortino Jr. (D-Medford) joined Murray in expressing support.
05.04.2011; Matt Murphy
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