Massachusetts HIV/AIDS Prevention Programs for Young People Seeking Funding Amid Increasing HIV Caseload
HIV/AIDS prevention programs that target youth in Massachusetts are "scrambling" to find funding, the Boston Globe reports. Although state and federal funding for the state Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Bureau increased between 1991 and 2001, funding has dropped by approximately $1 million since that time. In addition, the state Department of Education has lost funding for its AIDS program, meaning that HIV/AIDS curriculums in school health awareness programs "vary from school to school," the Globe reports. Meanwhile, the number of HIV/AIDS cases among 13- to 24-year-olds in the state has significantly increased since the state began tracking HIV cases in 1999, the Globe reports. According to the health department, adolescents and young adults accounted for 8.7% of all HIV cases reported in 2002, up from 6.1% in 1999. Durrell Fox, project director for the New England HIV Education Consortium program, said, "[T]here are more youth living with HIV who are under 25 than ever before. They're living longer and (displaying) the same behavior as other teens." He added, "The reduction in prevention education means less people at the middle and high school levels are getting baseline information to protect themselves." Fox said that complacency also is contributing to a reduction in "massive" HIV/AIDS prevention media campaigns, the Globe reports. "After 20 years of information smacked in your face, you say the heck with it. People are tuning folks out, and there are more and more reductions in HIV and substance abuse programs," Fox said, adding, "We're taking steps backward in Massachusetts" (Sweeney, Boston Globe, 8/28).
The Boston Globe on Thursday also profiled the Shrewsbury High School "Dream Team," which stands for Daring to Reform Education on AIDS Matters. The program's 200 students raise money for acupuncture for AIDS patients, babysit HIV-positive children and volunteer with AIDS Project Worcester, according to Richard Marchand, who helped found the program. Marchand said, "People got complacent, people thought it wasn't an issue anymore. Our kids are active helping people directly impacted by the virus" (Sweeney, Boston Globe, 8/28).