Boosting Health Equity in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, HIV infection rates among people who inject drugs have dramatically decreased over the past 10 years, largely due to prevention efforts such as syringe exchange programs (SEPs). Still, people who inject drugs face significant health risks, including increasing rates of hepatitis C, skin infections, sexually transmitted infections, and mental health problems.
Tom Stopka, assistant professor of public health and community medicine, is addressing this problem by helping people who inject drugs to access publicly available health benefits such as MassHealth.
With a $100,000 grant from the M·A·C AIDS Fund, Stopka will be working with the five SEPs in Massachusetts. The funding provides training for a part-time staff member—a "health-care navigator"—at each of the five sites to help clients enroll or re-enroll in insurance programs. Across the state, the SEPs annually support more than 4,500 clients. Over the course of the year-long project, the health-care navigators are expected to help 1,000 people obtain public health insurance as well as HIV prevention, care, and treatment services. Read more>>