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L.A. LGBT Center Forced to End Free STI & HIV Testing Due to Fund Cut

Los Angeles LGBT Center

The center is urging Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health to restore the vital resources.



UPDATE: The Los Angeles LGBT Center's funding has been restored thanks to public pressure.

Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health has cut funding to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, rendering it unable to provide free testing of sexually transmitted infections.

The center sounded the alarm Monday in a notice urging the DPH and its director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, to restore the vital funding, which is used to test thousands for HIV and other STIs annually.

"At a time when all of us should be redoubling efforts to end these epidemics, the Department of Public Health and Dr. Ferrer are turning their backs on the LGBT community and their duty to protect the public health of all Angelenos," said Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center. "We demand the Board of Supervisors take immediate action to restore care to those who need it most."

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted last year to expand the county's STI-testing resources for at-risk communities. However, according to the center, the DPH cut its funds by $1 million from 2019 to 2020. Additionally, the county will begin charging health partners like the center for its lab costs.

The center says that, beginning Tuesday, this new approach will end "almost all" free tests for HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. "At a time when we've made so much progress in the fight against HIV, this represents a direct assault on the LGBT community by DPH and Dr. Ferrer," Jean said.

The center is urging concerned Angelenos to call their county supervisor at (213) 974-1411 and Ferrer at (213) 240-8144 to demand the funding be restored. Its suggested voice mail message: "I demand that the Board of Supervisors take action to restore this lifesaving funding for the LGBT community. Our community has faced the horrors of what happens when access to health care is withheld because of bigotry and stigma. This action by DPH is putting our lives at risk."

In California and L.A. County, the number of STI cases has skyrocketed in recent years and reached record highs for cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The LGBTQ community is considered an at-risk group, making the services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center all the more needed.

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