AUTHOR: Wes Chicko
AGENCY: AIDS Resource Alliance
For folks who identify as LGBTQ, finding a healthcare provider who is both compassionate and fluent in health needs specific to the community. Central Pennsylvania residents who identify as LGBTQ now have a clinic that is specifically designed for them.
AIDS Resource Alliance has been serving the community for over 30 years providing social and case management support to residents living with HIV. With the opening of the new clinic, under the direction of Dr. Andrew Haussmann, expands those services to provide overall health care to the community at large who identifies as LGBTQ, regardless of their HIV status.
Services at the clinic, which include routine wellness checks, vaccinations, health screenings, and chronic condition management, are provided on a “sliding scale”, and are available to all residents regardless of whether they are covered by health insurance.
The agency will continue to provide free HIV and Hepatitis C testing, as well as condoms and other safer sex materials, to all residents. This includes prescriptions for PrEP, the HIV preventative medication that has been proven to prevent most new cases of HIV when taken as prescribed.
The impetus for the clinic was borne in part out of the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as an overall lack of healthcare services that are tailored to those who identify as LGBTQ.
Dr. Haussmann points out that services for the LGBTQ community are varied and unique, and that some patients may struggle to express this to a healthcare provider.
“Unfortunately, what makes healthcare different for LGBTQ+ folks is all too often feeling uncomfortable with healthcare providers,” says Haussmann.
Kirsten Burkhart, the executive director of both AIDS Resource and the new clinic, echoes that sentiment. “At a time when the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly under attack, it’s more important than ever that they have a place where they know that they are not just tolerated but celebrated,” says Burkhart.
“We certainly can’t address all the issues that community faces,” she adds, “but we have created a place where they can receive knowledgeable healthcare without fear of judgement or stigmatization.”