ALTAMED HEALTH SERVICES HOSTED
In early August, AltaMed Health Services, the nation’s largest independent federally qualified community health center, hosted “Inclusion Beyond Pride: A Queer Art Show, ” featuring local artists whose work represents the diversity, resistance, and pride of the LGBTQ+ community.
Guests who attended the event had the opportunity to meet artists Linda Vallejo, Joey Terrill, Rigo Maldonado, and Jef Huereque and see their works on display and learn about their inspiration. Showcased pieces from the AltaMed Art Collection included drawings, paintings to hand-painted pottery.
“Art is a powerful and emotional storyteller,” says Jacqueline Nazarian, MPH, Manager of HIV Prevention at AltaMed. “We’re proud to feature the work of LGTBQ+ artists and invite young people in our community to meet the artist and learn about sexual health and resources. We know that in order to make a difference in the communities we serve that we must do it creatively.”
The event took place at AltaMed’s Youth Services location in Los Angeles, which serves as a safe space for young people in the community to learn about health and educational resources. During the event, AltaMed offered free HIV testing and attendees had a chance to learn about HIV prevention services and Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication designed to prevent HIV. It is recommended especially for people who practice unprotected sex, men who have sex with other men, or people who share needles. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year. That includes about 28,000 Black and Latino/a people. That number can be close to zero with PrEP. It’s estimated that there are more than 1.1 million people in the U.S. who could benefit from taking PrEP.
“PrEP has been available for almost a decade, yet there’s many people who still don’t know about it or don’t know where to access it,” says Alicia Morehead-Gee, MD, Medical Director of HIV Prevention at AltaMed. “Despite advances in HIV testing and treatment, communities of color continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV in Southern California.”
Studies have shown when taken as prescribed and used consistently, PrEP reduces the risk of HIV from sex by up to 99% and more than 70% for people who inject drugs. PrEP needs to be taken daily for it to be its most effective. While it is up to 99% effective in preventing HIV from sex, using a condom adds an extra measure of protection and also prevents the transmission of other STIs. PrEP can be taken safely along with birth control and hormone therapy.
For more than 30 years, AltaMed has been one of the largest providers of HIV prevention and care in Los Angeles and Orange counties, working to reduce health disparities among underinsured and hard-to-reach communities of color.
The AltaMed HIV Services team provides specialty medical care, dental care, behavioral health services, prevention services, support groups and more. To learn more about our services, visit: www.AltaMed.org/HIV or call (323) 869-5448 (Los Angeles County) or (714) 500-0491 (Orange County).