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Massachusetts House passes public health amendment, adding $2.5M to HIV/AIDS funding

Posted Apr 27 2011 9:56am

Statement by Rebecca Haag, AIDS Action President & CEO

BOSTON, April 27, 2011—“The public health amendment passed by the House yesterday is a smart and focused investment in public health. Prevention and wellness programs are critical to long-term savings in health care. Over the last 10 years, the state’s investment in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention has paid off with a 59 percent reduction in new HIV diagnoses. This will result in a savings of more than $1.6 billion in health care costs.

“Even as the rate of new infections has declined dramatically, the number of people living with HIV and AIDS has increased by 42 percent. Today, there are approximately 18,000 people living in Massachusetts with a diagnosis of HIV. Care is prevention and the House deserves praise for recognizing the value of programs that not only help these people live better lives, but prevent new infections. It is critical to the state’s long-term economic well-being that we sustain a model of public health that effectively manages chronic diseases like HIV, diabetes, and asthma, all of which account for a disproportionate share of health care costs. And continued investment in care and robust, evidence-based behavioral interventions is the only way we are going to end this epidemic.

“Despite the progress that has been made, Black and Hispanic residents; gay and bisexual men; and injection drug users continue to be the most vulnerable to HIV infection. Blacks make up only 6% of the state’s population, but they comprise 28% of those living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts; Hispanics make up only 6% of the state’s population, but they comprise 25% of those living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts; and male-to-male sex and injection drug use are the leading reported exposure modes for HIV infection for those living with HIV/AIDS, accounting for 35% and 24% of all exposures, respectively. The House’s funding of continued aggressive prevention, outreach, and education will help us reduce—and eliminate—these disparities.

“Last July, President Obama released a National Strategy on HIV/AIDS which outlines ambitious, but achievable, goals toward ending the epidemic. Massachusetts has long been a national leader in implementing effective public health programs that succeed in reducing HIV transmission and increase the health of those already infected. We are grateful to the House for keeping this commitment—a commitment that has no doubt saved countless lives, and eased the burden that can come with a diagnosis of HIV for thousands more.”

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