San Diego, CA–The San Diego LGBT Community Center will provide free sexually transmitted infection screening services to support the local LGBTQ community.
The new service is open to all and will allow San Diego County residents to obtain an STI screening in a people-centered, judgment-free, and sex-positive environment. The launch of this service is an expansion of its sexual health and wellness program and aligns with the nonprofit’s mission to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, nonbinary, immigrant, and HIV communities for the betterment of the entire region. The Center launched this new service on Monday.
According to the CDC, there were more than 2.5 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis – the most reported STIs – in 2019, which is a 30 percent increase from 2015. Rates were especially high among gay and bisexual men, youth, and in the Black and Latinx communities.
While the COVID-19 pandemic caused a decrease in sexual encounters, it also reduced the availability and utilization of sexual health services. There is a major concern from medical experts that STIs are now going undetected due to decreased testing.
“Anyone who wants to receive a free STI screening can access this service at The Center without fear of judgment,” says Cara Dessert, CEO, The San Diego LGBT Community Center. “Since 2010, we have seen consistent increases in STIs in the U.S., in California, and in San Diego. The decrease in STI rates we saw during the pandemic were partly due to decreased access to STI testing and screening as clinics closed during stay-at-home orders. We want to address that by adding a free STI clinic option for those in our community who need this resource. We all deserve access to sexual health services,” says Dessert.
The Center already provides HIV and Hepatitis C (HCV) testing and will add free STI screenings for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis, as part of its #BeTheGeneration Sexual Health and Wellness program. Sexual health does not begin and end with HIV testing. For people who are on PrEP, which is a once-daily pill that prevents HIV transmission, the CDC recommends regular STI screening every six months. People living with HIV who are sexually active should also get screened for STIs regularly, at least every six months.
“Our dedicated and knowledgeable staff are experts on LGBTQ health and wellness and provide education, support, and resources in a stigma-free environment. Our team is here to help answer your questions and support you through the process,” says Gus Hernandez, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing at The Center.
The Center encourages everyone in the community who is sexually active to make an appointment to get screened.
Anyone who needs access to this free service can make an appointment by calling (619) 800-4252 (English and Spanish translators available), or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Center is currently open for limited in-person services, Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and walk-ins for STI screening and HIV/HCV testing will be available based on staff availability. For more information, call (619) 692-2077.