As a consumer at the Positive Health Program of Portland Public Health’s India Street Public Health Center, I am horrified at City Manager Jon Jennings’ proposal to cut funding for the lifeline that has kept me healthy for the past 12 years.

A letter was sent out to clinic consumers that services would be moved to the Portland Community Health Center, where, we’ve been told, there will be better services.

This is interesting to hear. As far as I know, India Street houses the only 24/7 HIV primary care practice in the entire state of Maine. Furthermore, the clinicians and nurses at India Street are all certified in HIV medicine, and the clinic has a specialist in HIV/AIDS. The Portland Community Health Center has none of these; in all fairness, it intends to hire someone knowledgeable, but not a certified specialist.

India Street’s sexually transmitted disease services also welcome everyone; more importantly, they are especially friendly to the LGBTQ community. Nowhere else in southern Maine do we have such a highly efficient and caring service as that rendered in the needle exchange.

None of these services currently exist at the Portland Community Health Center, and to try to emphatically say that these services will be better there is a total misrepresentation to those who use the India Street clinic and to the Portland-area community.

Though the spread of HIV continues in the population, the numbers are far fewer, thanks to the education from a knowledgeable staff at India Street. Throwing caution to the wind, as Mr. Jennings is proposing, is a slap in the face to the HIV population and citizens in general of the Portland area.

Jenson Steel