Boston Globe Examines Center That Provides Services to Children Living With HIV, Other Conditions
The Boston Globe on Thursday examined the SPARK Center, which opened in 1988 as a residential program for children living with HIV. The center in 1992 moved from Boston City Hospital to the grounds of the old Boston Chronic Disease Hospital and later switched from residential to day care. It provides educational, medical and mental health services for HIV-positive children, many of whom had lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes.
According to the Globe, the center a few years ago changed its name to SPARK, which reflected the "medical reality" that fewer infants are contracting HIV. The center now provides services to children with other conditions such as metabolic issues, serious asthma, neurological disorders, diabetes and cerebral palsy. According to the Globe, center employees are seeing a new group of teenagers contracting HIV through sex and drug use. SPARK Director Martha Vibbert said that there can be problems with teenagers adhering to their treatment regimens because there still is a stigma surrounding the virus. "The older kids have fallen off the radar screen because they're no longer babies," she said, adding that many have been with the program since they were children.
The Globe reports that budget cuts related to the economic downturn might force the center next fall to reduce enrollment and hours. Vibbert said that she is determined to keep the program running (English, Boston Globe, 3/26).