The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) received a grant of almost $15 million to fund core medical and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. BPHC will administer the grant funds to providers located in the Boston Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA) to improve health outcomes and reduce HIV transmission among hard-to-reach populations and those that are under or uninsured. The grant comes from HRSA’s Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, a part of the United States Department of Health & Human Services.
“Everyone that is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS deserves the chance to access treatment”, said Chief of Health and Human Services, Marty Martinez. “The Ryan White Program and others supported by the city are intentional in distributing funds for services offered in a variety of settings, including AIDS service organizations, community health centers, substance use treatment agencies, and minority-based agencies. This model is one that works. These new funds will enable us to do even more now as part of a nationwide effort to end HIV/AIDS.”
The Boston EMA is comprised of 308 cities and towns within 10 counties including seven counties in Massachusetts and three counties in New Hampshire. As of December 31, 2017, there were 18,149 people living with HIV/AIDS reported in the Boston EMA. However, in 2017, there were 227 people diagnosed with AIDS, a 27 percent decrease in AIDS diagnoses since 2013.
“This funding demonstrates the commitment of the Mayor, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Ryan White Planning Council to provide life supporting and lifesaving services and medications to our neighbors here in the greater Boston area and southern New Hampshire while we continue our work to stop new HIV infections,” said Stephen Corbett, Chair of the Boston EMA Planning Council.
This funding, together with funding from the City of Boston and other sources, plays a critical role in supporting patients in accessing care across the continuum of HIV prevention and care services. Comprehensive HIV care includes access to antiretroviral therapy, substance use treatment services, mental health treatment, and oral health care. This grant focuses on reducing health disparities and barriers to treatment as well, providing funding support regarding transportation, nutrition, and housing. Included the new grant is Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) funding that focuses on reducing racial and ethnic disparities throughout the HIV care continuum.
“We are making a real difference in the lives of thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White Program. The funding empowers patients to access medication and the services that are right for them in order to help them keep their viral load low, and in many cases, thanks to this program, at an undetectable level. The robust funding being provided now will allow us to provide even more of the important wrap-around services patients need,” said Jenifer Leaf Jaeger, MD, MPH, Director of the Infectious Disease Bureau at BPHC.
In January, the Boston Public Health Commission and The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported an outbreak of new HIV cases in persons who inject drugs in Boston. A couple of months later, a similar outbreak was announced to be occurring in other parts of the state, including in Worcester. These follow the outbreak in Lowell and Lawrence in 2017. The increasing rates of HIV infections in vulnerable populations demonstrates the importance of funds for early detection, treatment and comprehensive prevention efforts targeting people who inject drugs.
The Ryan White Services Division at the Boston Public Health Commission serves as the grantee for the Ryan White Part A grant. Click here to learn more about their work.