The Baltimore City Health Department has been given a grant of over $20 million by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases throughout the city.
The CDC has reported the drop in cases of HIV infections nationwide but cases of new infections in Baltimore City have been rising, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender communities. Health officials have also reported that 84 percent of those who are at risk with HIV are African-American.
Health Commissioner of Baltimore City Dr. Leana Wen said that the campaign is not just a health issue, but an issue of social justice. Dr. Wen said that the funding will be able to help African-American MSM and transgender individuals who are affected by HIV not just in Baltimore, but also across the country.
Baltimore City mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to use the grant to provide daily administering of the antiretroviral drug Truvada to those infected with the virus, and to collaborate and form a statewide agreement with various health care communities. The grant was part of the $185 million fund allocated nationwide by the CDC.
The program on Baltimore City has been divided into two STD clinics, namely the Ryan White primary care services for HIV positive patients, and the Vaccine for Children program that provides an immunization against hepatitis B. Both clinics provide free health care services to more than 30,000 patients every year.
Meanwhile, the Baltimore City STD/HIV Prevention Program ensures proper medical treatment for persons with syphilis and women with gonorrhea. The program also provides counseling and referral services for people with HIV.
As part of the program, health officials in mobile vans also conduct outreach testing for possible new infections of syphilis and HIV in areas where cases are relatively high. Upon request, the program provides health education services such as presentations and forums to schools and communities.
The program also includes services such as pregnancy tests, pap smears for cervical cancer, STD and HIV testing, treatments for HIV and other STDs, confidential partner notification for HIV and syphilis, and birth control and family planning.