Mass. Health Foundation Awards $270,400 for Initiative To Address Sexual Violence, HIV/AIDS Among Women
The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts on Wednesday announced a grant of $270,400 to pilot the "Women's HIV/Sexual Violence Initiative," the Worcester Telegram reports. The initiative is a collaboration of AIDS Project Worcester, the YWCA's Daybreak program, Family Health Center, the Rape Crisis Center, Pernet Family Health Service and the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts, according to the Telegram.
The main goal of the initiative is to increase access to information about HIV/AIDS and sexual violence. The initiative plans to distribute a culturally appropriate, self-administered screening survey to places frequented by women, such as hair and nail salons, laundromats, faith communities, neighborhood centers, social service providers and MySpace.com, the Telegram reports. "Most of these women are women of color, and they are becoming infected through sexual violence, often by men with whom they are having a relationship and with men who know that they are infected," Janice Yost, president and CEO of HFCM, said, adding, "This is a woman's worst nightmare, to be sexually violated by someone we think cares for us, and to end up with HIV as a result."
Joseph McKee, executive director of AIDS Project Worcester, said, "What is happening with this collaborative ... feels more supportive," adding, "It feels like a lot of the things that we've been advocating all along are now being supported." The foundation anticipates providing about $1 million more for the project over three to five years if it proves successful.
Worcester City Councilor Gary Rosen said, "AIDS Project Worcester is one of the best agencies in Worcester and central Massachusetts, and with public and private partnerships, we can help cut down the instances of AIDS in the city." Rosen said he has submitted an order to the council to review why the city has the highest percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS in Massachusetts (Welsh, Worcester Telegram, 2/13).