In the past few months, the LGBT Life Center has seen a spike in sexually transmitted diseases (STD) rates, including HIV. Due to the increase in STD diagnoses, the LGBT Life Center is asking sexually active adults in Hampton Roads to seek STD & HIV testing.
The LGBT Life Center promotes STD testing as part of an active and healthy life and should be done at least once a year and as much as four times a year for those that are highly sexually active. Regardless of when one was last tested, anyone who believes they are currently experiencing signs or symptoms of an STD or HIV is welcome to go to the LGBT Life Center for free screening or visit their personal physician.
This increase in STD infections is consistent with national trends that have been ongoing since 2013, with a record high set in 2017 and corresponds with decreases in federal funding for HIV, STD, and sex education.
“Locally, we’re doing everything we can to reverse this trend, including more community outreach events, mail order condom distribution, free STD and HIV testing, as well as opening a free-to-low-cost health care clinic in Norfolk that can test and treat STDs on-the-spot,” said Stacie Walls, CEO of LGBT Life Center.
Many STDs can be treated effectively and quickly, but without a proper diagnosis, STDs can go untreated, increasing the chances of spreading to multiple partners as well as the difficulty in treating them. The LGBT Life Center is among several clinics in Hampton Roads offering free, private STD and HIV testing. Several tests offer results within 20 minutes and all other tests have results within 3-5 business days. In addition, the LGBT Life Center also offers free-to-low-cost STD and HIV treatment at their clinic located at 1001 Monticello in Norfolk.
There are a number of ways to prevent STDs and HIV, including:
- Condoms,dental dams and female condoms – available for free at LGBT Life Center
- PrEP – a daily pill that is a up to 99% effective at blocking HIV in HIV-negative individuals (and can be prescribed at LGBT Life Center’s clinic. Co-pay assistance is available and in some cases the entire cost is covered).
- Treatment as Prevention – HIV-positive individuals on treatment can reduce the amount of virus in their system to a level that is undetectable so that there is effectively no risk of transmission.
- PEP – a 28-day regimen for HIV-negative individuals that have come into contact with HIV
- Sexual Health Education – LGBT Life Center staff members are ready to talk about how HIV and STDs are transmitted (and how they’re not)
- Condom negotiation – LGBT Life Center staff members can help individuals learn techniques to ask their partner(s) to use condoms
- Clean works – LGBT Life Center supplies kits and education on how to properly clean needles
Access to care, including STD and HIV testing, is an obstacle for many people, especially those in the LGBTQ+ communities. Discrimination, a lack of LGBTQ+ sensitivity and understanding, and a number of other factors have led to health disparities at an alarming rate within the community. LGBT Life Center is committed to providing access to STD and HIV testing in the Hampton Roads community, offering testing and support at locations on the Peninsula or Southside, including a mobile testing unit.
If you want to get tested or need more information about the LGBT Life Center and its programs, call (757) 640-0929 or visit their website, by clicking on the image below.