From the start of his political career, Mayor Menino has pushed for services for people living with HIV and AIDS and he has been an outspoken advocate on their behalf. From his first term in office as a district city councilor from Hyde Park, he approached the issue of
In the mid-1980s, during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic, City Councilor Menino advocated employing 24 full-time outreach workers in the city of Boston to educate intravenous drug users about the risk of AIDS. This was cutting edge public policy at the time. He also insisted on two community health vans to be deployed to at-risk neighborhoods to provide general health education as well as AIDS prevention information and on increasing the availability of drug treatment programs. He also pushed to implement a needle exchange program in the city.
When he became Mayor in 1993, the city finally implemented many of the elements of the plan Menino had so boldly proposed nearly a decade earlier: a needle exchange program, outreach workers, and public education around HIV/AIDS. He also hired John Auerbach, another hero in the fight against AIDS, to direct the city’s response to AIDS as head of the Boston Public Health Commission. These strategies have saved thousands of lives over the years.
In 2001, Mayor Menino raised money to help pay for a liver transplant for Belynda Dunn, a longtime employee of AIDS Action Committee who was a leading HIV educator in the city’s African American community. Dunn had been denied payment for a transplant by her health insurer because of she was HIV positive.
Today, even as public attention to AIDS has waned; Mayor Menino has continued to speak out about the ongoing need to provide services for the growing numbers of those who are living with HIV in Massachusetts. There can be no doubt that the political leadership on HIV/AIDS shown by Mayor Menino throughout the entirety of the epidemic, and his insistence on implementing public education, prevention, and outreach about HIV, has contributed significantly to the Commonwealth’s status as a leader in the country in lowering rates of HIV transmission and the improved health of those living with HIV.
Pay as you go: Our web site is free, and we want to keep it that way. Bay Windows turns 31 this year. Will you pledge your support for the upcoming year by contributing funds? Your contribution will help us keep the website and paper free and improve our coverage. Please, if you are able, we welcome your support. Please note - your contribution is not tax deductible.