May 5, 2009
New Jersey’s Only Free HIV Testing Clinic to Close Doors
The Bergen County, New Jersey, Health Department is closing its only free HIV testing clinic, NorthJersey.com reports. Advocates worry that the closure will endanger the $4 million in annual grant money that Bergen and Passaic counties receive annually through the Ryan White CARE Act.
According to the article, the Bergen County Counseling Center in Hackensack has provided HIV testing for people without health insurance for 20 years.
“I’m in total disbelief this is happening,” says Catherine Correa, director of the Ryan White Grants Division of the Paterson Department of Human Services. “There will be a gap in services, and we will be out of compliance…. They are absolutely putting the money in jeopardy.”
However, Bergen County spokesman Brian Hague maintained that the county would not forfeit its federal Ryan White grant money. “We basically have to provide public education about HIV [to retain the Ryan White funds],” Hague said. “We fulfill that requirement.”
Another reason for shuttering the testing clinic, he said, was that new state funding requirements would mean the center must remain open on nights and weekends, adding to county expenses during a difficult budget cycle. In addition, to receive $100,000 in state funding for the center, the county has to provide $100,000 in matching funds.
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