Heading East & Growing West
This fall, the Center will grow its services in Los Angeles to better meet the diverse needs of our community and improve access to care.
Where Sexual Health is Our Priority
The staff of the relocated and renamed Los Angeles LGBT Center- WeHo has one message for the community, reflected in a promotional campaign for the facility: “Whatever you’re into, protecting your sexual health and well-being is our priority.”
Located just above Gym Bar and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Santa Monica Boulevard, the new 2,600-square-foot facility opens in early October and was designed specifically to provide sexual health related services in a sex-positive environment. It offers free HIV and other sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, STI treatment, access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and a variety of free condoms.
To help make the testing process faster and more efficient than ever before, appointments can be scheduled, and soon the availability of a new “Quickie Pass” will shave an average of 20 minutes off visits by enabling people to complete paperwork online at whatRUinto.org.
Questions about PrEP? Medical providers will be available to help people determine whether PrEP, also known as the “HIV prevention pill,” is the right choice for them; if it is, prescriptions can be filled on-site. Although many insurance plans cover PrEP, staff can help those who are uninsured, or whose plans don’t cover the drug, get financial assistance for it.
“Knowing your HIV and STI status and having easy access to HIV prevention medications like PEP and PrEP is so important,” says Dustin Kerrone, manager of the Center’s Sexual Health Education Program. “It’s the only way we can stop the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases and get people who are positive the treatment they need. We built this new ‘sex-positive’ facility so we can test even more people, and do it in a welcoming, shame-free space where people can talk openly about their sexual practices and risk factors.”
Nationally, one in seven people who are HIV-positive doesn’t know it, so they aren’t getting the treatment to protect themselves and their sex partners. The largest number of new infections is among young gay/bisexual men, particularly African-Americans ages 13 to 24. Here in Los Angeles, 83% of those living with HIV are gay/bisexual men. Transgender women are also at high risk. One study estimates that 30% of transgender women are living with HIV.
The HIV tests used by the Center are the most accurate and reliable available, capable of detecting HIV as early as seven days after exposure. The other tests the Center offers are for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. Anyone who tests positive for an STI can get treatment onsite or at the Center’s Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic in Hollywood, which is also where HIV medical care is offered.
For those who fear they may have recently been exposed to HIV, the Center-WeHo will offer postexposure prophylaxis (PEP). PEP involves taking anti- HIV medications within 72 hours of exposure to prevent the virus from spreading through the body.
Center-WeHo will replace the smaller facility known as The Spot on San Vicente Boulevard and will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Appointments can be made by phone (and soon online), but walk-in visits are also welcome. One hour free parking is available next to Tender Greens before 6 p.m., and up to three hours with validated parking at the West Hollywood city parking garage next to the library.
All the same services offered at Center-WeHo will continue to be offered on the third floor of the Center’s McDonald/Wright building in Hollywood.
The Center-Boyle Heights
Expanding Our Community of Care
This month the Los Angeles LGBT Center, in partnership with Latino Equality Alliance (LEA), launched Mi Centro, a new facility to serve the needs of LGBT people in Boyle Heights and surrounding neighborhoods.
“The opening of the Boyle Heights facility realizes a longtime objective of the Center to expand services beyond our Hollywood sites,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “We have many clients who travel long distances to obtain services at the Center and we also know there is a growing need for LGBT-specific services throughout eastside neighborhoods. We look forward to working with LEA and other collaborative partners to do an even better job of serving our community.”
Located at 553 S. Clarence St., just east of the Los Angeles River, Mi Centro is part of City Labs, a new purpose-driven, collaborative space for organizations to thrive, grow, and serve the Boyle Heights community.
Mercedes Marquez, a member of both the Center and LEA boards, helped galvanize the joint project.
“This new chapter in the relationship between LEA and the Center is one born of shared values and a deep demonstrated commitment to the struggle for freedom of and by LGBT people, wherever we are,” said Marquez. “Service needs in the Latino LGBT communities of Los Angeles are enormous. The Center and LEA are committed to working together, and with other Latino LGBT service providing organizations, to both deepen services and provide an LGBT space in Boyle Heights dedicated to dialogue and the celebration of Latino LGBT life and culture. ¡Adelante!”
LEA, established in the wake of the Proposition 8 ballot initiative by grassroots Latina and Latino LGBT leaders, has worked to increase support for LGBT individuals and families within the Latino communities of Los Angeles.
“The name Mi Centro is a good example of our joint commitment to make this space welcoming and relevant to our Latino LGBT community,” said LEA Co-Founder and Advisory Board Chair Ari Gutierrez Arambula. “It is with acknowledgment of the long–fought struggles of our community for equal access to social services and opportunities that LEA welcomes the opportunity to work in alliance with the Center in expanding its service area through a satellite LGBT center in Boyle Heights.”
Initially, the Center and LEA will offer a range of bilingual services that includes legal services, activities and educational opportunities for youth, programs for seniors, and other social services. Working with LEA and other community service organizations, the Center will carefully consider expanding its work in a way that is consistent with its values of service and collaboration. At the outset, the Center hopes to provide legal services and support for immigrants, domestic violence counseling, social services for the transgender community, and support groups and workshops for seniors and youth. Key to the success of any program will be partnerships with other social change organizations, such as MALDEF, a national legal organization fighting for the civil rights of Latinas and Latinos.
“Boyle Heights is one of L.A.’s most vibrant neighborhoods,” said MALDEF staff attorney Matthew Barragan. “The collaboration of the Center and the Latino Equality Alliance will add to the sense of community, especially for LGBT people, and provide a safe space where community members can access a variety of services and support.”