Boston Catholic Diocese To Close Office of AIDS Ministry
The Boston Diocese of the Catholic Church is scheduled to close its Office of AIDS Ministry at the end of June, according to program director Sister Zita Fleming, the Boston Globe reports. The center, which was founded in 1988 by former Boston Archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law, currently runs four residential shelters -- in the Brighton, Roxbury, Lowell and Fenway areas -- for AIDS patients and coordinates educational outreach programs at local schools and parishes. According to Fleming, the shelters will continue to operate after the office closes, but individual shelters will be responsible for handling the long-term medical, economic and psychological assistance originally coordinated by the central office. In addition, following the office's closure, the church will no longer coordinate speaking or educational programs at local churches and schools, according to Fleming. Fleming said that the closure of the office is "one sign that AIDS is no longer considered the crisis it once was," due in part to the medications that allow AIDS patients to live longer, according to the Globe. But Fleming said, "I don't want to imply that the epidemic is over, because it's not," adding that some people now see AIDS as a chronic disease rather than a "death sentence," according to the Globe. Larry Kessler, founding director of the AIDS Action Committee in Boston, said he is particularly concerned about the end of AIDS-related educational programs in the area, adding, "The epidemic is far from over. We tend to forget we have a new generation that needs to be educated. There is a perception that it's all conquered. In some ways, AIDS has gone underground again" (Davis, Boston Globe, 5/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.