Note from the Commissioner: Community Partnerships Can Make a Difference

Why women cry

This week, I had the honor of addressing the 14th Sisters Together and Reaching, Inc.’s (STAR) Why Women Cry Conference. At the event, which has grown to be the largest free women’s HIV conference on the East Coast, I was able to address more than 1,000 advocates and community leaders. The group gathered to raise awareness about the increasing impact of HIV/AIDS transmission on women and girls and their intimate partners, as well as various health, economic, educational and behavioral health disparities in African-American and minority communities. STAR’s mission and vision, which aims to address health and wellness holistically with a focus on culturally aware and sensitive care, is uniquely aligned with the goal of our work at the Baltimore City Health Department.

Our agency has long worked in the field of HIV treatment and prevention through our Ryan White grant funding. These resources allow the Health Department to provide a comprehensive system of HIV primary medical care, essential support services, and medications for low-income people living with HIV who are uninsured and underserved. Through Part A of our program, we assist in providing services to over 12,000 City residents in the form of medication and case management. Through Part B of the initiative, we are able to focus on early intervention services for residents in the City at risk for HIV.  The Health Department is also a recipient of Title X funding which allows the agency to provide reproductive health services including contraception distribution and management, STI treatment, and general education and outreach on reproductive health to uninsured, underinsured and underserved residents in the City.  We provide these services directly at three venues throughout the City and we have many partners that support us in doing similar work. 

I applaud community organizations like STAR and the Why Women Cry Coalition for their efforts as well as other community based organizations, who continue to work tirelessly to make Baltimore a healthier City.  

Letitia Dzirasa, MD.

Baltimore City Commissioner of Health

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