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This week, the Massachusetts Senate will debate two critical amendments to the Senate Budget that will have a significant impact on HIV prevention and drug user health.
Massachusetts is in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic. Opioid overdose is the number one cause of death in the Commonwealth and we have an alarmingly high outbreak of Hepatitis C, yet due to a combination of harm reduction programs and sheer luck, we have not yet seen an upsurge in new HIV cases. Needle exchange programs and PrEP are proven effective tools that reduce HIV transmission and empower people to take control of their healthcare.
- Amendment #487 – HIV/AIDS Prevention
Filed by Senator Forry, this amendment would increase HIV/AIDS funding to expand pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) education, access, and navigation services in Massachusetts. PrEP is a groundbreaking HIV prevention tool and this amendment would expand PrEP access and utilization among those greatest at risk for HIV infection.
- Amendment #368 – Addicts health opportunity prevention and education programs
Harm reduction programs, which provide needle exchange and overdose prevention services, are a proven effective and safe way to engage injection drug users in care, yet lack of clarity in existing state law prevents communities from employing this tool effectively. Filed by Senator Lewis, this amendment removes the ten program cap and empowers the local health departments to establish programs where they are most needed.
Other Supported Amendments concerning vital services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Massachusetts.
- Amendment #734 to restore funding to the Alternative Housing Voucher Program to expand housing opportunities for low-income adults with disabilities (Senator Eldridge)
- Amendment #800 and #759 to expand Home and Healthy for Good to provide more permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, including a program for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless youths (Senator Forry; Senator Eldridge)
- Amendment #335 to restore funding for unaccompanied homeless youth housing and wraparound support services (Senator Lewis)
Each of these amendments ensures critical services for the clients of AAC and those living with and affected by HIV and the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts.
Please take the time to contact your Senator now and consider sharing via social media. We are counting on you.