Naples Pride is debuting a new walk-in clinic that will provide a safe space for the LGBTQ community to get treatment.
While the services at the clinic are provided everywhere, this will offer a comfortable setting for people who often feel stigmatized.
One gay man who works at the clinic said it’s needed because one doctor he went to previously didn’t know the procedures in place for him to get the HIV prevention medication PrEP.
That’s one of the reasons the new clinic is important.
Michael Stevens is the first face you see when you enter the doors of the Naples Pride Community Center on Airport-Pulling Road South.
He calls the center a “comfortable space” and a “haven.”
Stevens, who is gay, sometimes still deals with stigma and prejudice. But one of the toughest times of his was life was in the 80s during the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
At that time, getting tested for the then-deadly disease was terrifying.
“I can tell you it literally made me sick to my stomach waiting for my results,” Stevens said. “If your employer found out, if your insurance company found out, you literally could be denied coverage in those days.”
He’s proud he can now help others in the LGBTQ community through the new drop-in clinic.
It offers HIV, hepatitis, and STD testing, and treatment right in the community center’s backroom.
The services are confidential and free.
“I think the LGBTQ community always has trust issues in any community they’re in,” Stevens said. “We get calls every day from people saying I’m looking for a primary care doctor but I need somebody who’s going to be sensitive to my lifestyle and my issues.”
Health providers with Independent Medical Group or IMG say they plan to be just that. They run the new clinic and Valentine Clark with IMG says to expect stigma-free healthcare for all.
“It’s extremely rewarding to be able to offer services to what becomes an underserved community. Communities that really need additional attention with regards to whether or not they can afford the services,” Clark said.
The clinic is open at the Community Center every Tuesday and Thursday from noon to 4 p.m. No appointment is necessary.
For more information on Naples Pride.