Bergen County, N.J., Rejects Plans To Close No-Cost HIV Testing Center
The Bergen County, N.J., Board of Freeholders on Thursday rejected plans to close the only no-cost HIV testing center in the county after opponents said the potential closure could lead to a reduction in the $4 million in Ryan White Program funding that Bergen and Passaic counties receive, NorthJersey.com reports.
County spokesperson Brian Hague recently said that the county would save $104,000 by closing the clinic and allowing a private not-for-profit to conduct no-cost HIV testing at another facility in the county (Gartland, NorthJersey.com, 5/7). Hague said closing the clinic would not threaten federal funding because the county would still provide "public outreach and public education" on HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/4). However, opponents of the plan said the potential closure would put Ryan White funding at risk because the county would not be meeting the federal requirement to maintain HIV programs. Hague on Thursday said the county will continue to provide $104,000 for the center and also will continue to receive $106,000 in state funding. "However we need to satisfy the maintenance of effort, we will," Hague said, adding, "We're not going to work in a capacity that would jeopardize $4 million in the region ... We never had any intention of getting rid of that service."
County Freeholder David Ganz said the Board of Freeholders was "unanimously against" the closure. Ganz said he was more concerned about an interruption in access to no-cost, anonymous HIV testing than about a reduction in Ryan White funding. "It's not a money issue," Ganz said, adding, "It's the anonymity. The people that go want this to be an anonymous test." According to Ganz, the center will remain at its current location but will later be housed in the county's new Housing, Health and Human Services Center, which is expected to open at the end of the year (NorthJersey.com, 5/7).