Massachusetts Should Increase Funding for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Outreach Services, Editorial Says
Massachusetts as "recently as 2001" was "spending $51 million a year to prevent HIV/AIDS and provide services to those suffering from the disease," a Boston Globe editorial says. However, HIV/AIDS spending "plummeted" during the "budget crisis in the early years of this decade," and Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is "asking for only $37.1 million in his new budget -- just $200,000 more than is being spent this year," the editorial adds. To reduce the spread of HIV, particularly in the "minority communities where it is taking its greatest toll," the state Legislature should "add substantially to the state's HIV/AIDS programs," according to the Globe.
Increased HIV prevention and outreach efforts could reduce the almost 1,000 new HIV cases recorded annually in Massachusetts, the editorial says. It adds that efforts aimed at preventing new cases are "complicated by the fact that of the 22,000 people believed to be HIV-positive, an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 don't know their status."
HIV prevention efforts should focus on "black and Hispanic communities, which are increasingly bearing the brunt of the disease," according to the Globe. "Each group is just 6% of the state population, but more than 28% of people living with HIV/AIDS are black, and 25% are Hispanic," the editorial says. It adds that among men who have sex with men between ages 13 and 24 who were diagnosed with HIV from 2004 to 2006, 53% were black or Hispanic.
The Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Bureau in December 2007 released a "well-documented report on the heavy impact of HIV/AIDS on communities of color," the editorial says, concluding that the Legislature should "ensure the bureau has the resources it needs to reduce the disparity and prevent further transmission of the disease" (Boston Globe, 2/22).