Major CDC grant expands HIV prevention services in Lowell & Boston

JRI Health
JRI Health received a $1.75 million CDC grant to expand HIV prevention services in Boston and Lowell. Photo courtesy of JRI

Boston and Lowell are two cities with the highest average number of HIV infection diagnoses in the Bay State, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Recognizing the need for greater prevention services, the CDC has awarded JRI Health $1.75 million—or $350,000 per year over the next five years—to implement a new initiative called “Hook Up to Health.”

“This grant will enable our organization to significantly expand its efforts in preventing the spread of HIV,” said Andy Pond, President and CEO of JRI.  “Keeping individuals safe and empowered is another way for JRI to fulfill its social justice mission.”

JRI Health is a division of JRI that provides services to LGBTQ+ youth as well as people living with HIV and AIDS. “Hook Up to Health” aims at reducing disparities in health among young gay men and transgender women of color.

The grant will help JRI “provide affirming safe spaces; culturally relevant and age-appropriate educational information and safer sex materials; targeted outreach and recruitment; targeted HIV/STD/STI testing; and linkage to care and support services for HIV+ and high-risk HIV-negative individuals,” notes an April 12 JRI press release.

The initiative will be led by JRI’s Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (GLASS) program in partnership with Lowell Community Health Center, Fenway Health’s Sidney Borum, Jr. Health Center and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.