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Hope Center receives HIV, veterans' grants

The Hope Center announced two grants Thursday: One will let the center focus on identifying homeless men with HIV/AIDS, and the other will improve services to homeless veterans.

The center received a $2.25 million federal grant, one of only 49 grants given this year by the Department of Health and Human Services, for HIV outreach to include testing, substance abuse counseling and HIV risk-reduction education.

"Among male substance abusers, you're going to have the highest HIV population," said Cecil Dunn, Hope Center executive director.

"Previously, if clients didn't self-report, we had no way to identify them," he said. "This will let us do outreach and talk to people about how we can help them."

Dunn anticipates seeing many more HIV cases "than are being reported now."

The second grant, from the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides up to $33 a day per person for up to 30 veterans. Veterans are already being served by the center, but Dunn said, "This will let us significantly offset the cost of caring for this group of clients."

Most veterans who come to the center served in Vietnam. Dunn anticipates that, "as time goes on with the Iraq War, we'll see more veterans, because I know there are a lot of mental health issues with returning veterans." He said the Iraq War has "disrupted families" and caused an increased rate of divorce. "So I know the problems will surface," he said.

Kristy Henson, a decorated Iraq War veteran, has been hired to coordinate the program.

Kentucky first lady Jane Beshear attended the press conference. Substance abuse in Kentucky has become one of her main areas of interest. She said it is a problem that hits all areas of society. "They can be rich, poor, male and female, living in the city and rural areas."

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