Detroit Public Health opened a new STD testing clinic not far from Midtown, near E. Canfield and Woodward Avenue. Christine Heumann, MD, MPH, took the time to speak with rolling out. Below are a few helpful answers pertaining to the clinic’s Get Tested campaign as well as some available services.
What is the vision for Detroit Public Health STD Clinic and the Get Tested campaign?
Our clinic moved to our current location at 50 E. Canfield within the last year. With the Get Tested campaign, we hope to increase awareness of our current location and to encourage people to come in for sexual health care.
We envision our clinic as a welcoming space regardless of age, race, gender identity, or sexual orientation. We aim to serve all residents of Detroit regardless of ability to pay. Beyond being a place for STD testing and treatment, we strive to provide comprehensive sexual health care.
In the fight to eradicate HIV, and other communicable diseases, what three challenges does the Detroit Public Health STD Clinic currently face?
1) Based on CDC estimates, approximately 1 in 8 persons living with HIV are unaware of their status. When someone is unaware of his or her status, they are not able to get the medical care they need and there is an increased risk of HIV transmission.
2) Men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Stigmatization about sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexually transmitted diseases can hinder proper sexual health care, including the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and the provision of appropriate HIV prevention interventions such as HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and condoms.
How can people find out more about testing? Do they have to make an appointment?
We accept walk-ins and appointments. To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, you can call 313-577-9100.
We also have a web page: http://detroitstd.org
What can Detroiters do to stop the transmission of STDs and HIV?
First, we need to increase HIV screening. The CDC recommends that all adults are screened for HIV a minimum of once in their lifetime, and persons at high risk of HIV infection should be tested at least annually. Second, persons at risk of STDs should get routine STD screening based on their sexual risks and regardless of symptoms, sometimes as frequently as every three months. Everyone should be aware of this and discuss it with their health care provider.
What is one thing the STD Clinic would like to accomplish in the fight against HIV and STDs?
We would like to become the biggest provider of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in Detroit, and as a result, decrease the incidence of new HIV infections in our community.
Generally, how receptive are people to getting tested?
Stigmatization about sexual orientation, gender identity, and sexually transmitted diseases can prevent people from seeking STD and HIV testing. However, in a welcoming environment where sexuality and sexual health is discussed in an open and accepting manner, most people are receptive to testing.
How does technology play a role in encouraging people to get tested? How does the clinic utilize it?
We have recently created a web page, twitter account, and facebook page so that the community can easily learn more about our services.
Do you believe HIV can be eradicated? If so how?
The two most important components of HIV eradication are 1) treatment of infected persons to decrease transmission and 2) prevention of HIV acquisition in persons at high risk. In order to reach these goals, we need to increase HIV testing, improve HIV linkage to and retention in care, and increase the knowledge of an availability of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis.
How often should sexually active people be tested? Where can they get tested?
They can get tested at our clinic or at their primary care provider’s clinic. How often people should get tested is based on their risk factors such as number and gender of sex partners and sexual practices. The frequency of testing is best determined on an individual basis; screening every three months is appropriate for some people and for others less frequent screening is adequate.
What is next for Detroit Public Health STD Clinic regarding public health and safety?
We hope to increase our clinic volume and serve more and more residents of Detroit over time. We are actively growing our HIV PrEP program and will soon be offering hepatitis A and B vaccination. In the future, we would also like to offer HPV vaccination as well as initial HIV care, including antiretroviral therapy, for persons newly diagnosed with HIV.