Worcester, Mass., HIV/AIDS Panel Meets Today
An HIV/AIDS symposium will be held today in Worcester, Mass., and organizers are hoping to "avoid a confrontation" over needle exchange, a "charged" issue in the city, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. The Worcester City Council recently voted down a city needle exchange program, and some opponents of needle exchange have voiced criticism over a $10,000 state Department of Public Health grant awarded to the Henry Lee Willis Center to survey city residents about needle exchange. Symposium organizers said they wanted to focus on the "unique" AIDS epidemic in Worcester -- where the rate of infection is nearly twice that of the state -- and not get "wrapped up" in needle exchange politics. Mai Tuyet Pho, a University of Massachusetts Medical School student and a symposium organizer, said, "We're going to be objective. We're not going to pit one side against the other. We want to emphasize that this is an epidemic unique to Worcester." The city's HIV/AIDS infection rate is 172 per 100,000, compared to the state's rate of 95 per 100,000. The Latino community and intravenous drug users have been hit hardest by the epidemic, and the rising transmission rate among Worcester women is higher than the state average. The symposium will be held today from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Higgins University Center, and is free and open to the public (Melady, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.