Rhode Island AIDS hotline shuts down
On December 31, Rhode Island's AIDS hotline shut down after 18 years of service, the Providence Journal reports. Because of dwindling calls to the hotline, state health department officials decided not to seek renewed federal funding for the service, operated by AIDS Project Rhode Island. At its peak in the early 1990s, the hotline received about 5,000 calls per year. In 2004, only about 500 calls were logged. APRI executive director Christopher A. Butler says the $48,000 federal grant for the hotline also supported the organization's speakers' bureau that sent HIV-positive speakers to middle schools and high schools in the state and helped pay the salary of APRI's HIV prevention director. Butler says the agency will seek other funding sources to keep the speakers' bureau in operation. Callers to the hotline will now be transferred to APRI's reception desk during business hours. People answering the phone will undergo additional training to answer hotline questions, Butler says. Calls coming in outside of business hours will be referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's national AIDS hotline at (800) 342-AIDS.