As many clinics adapted services to the COVID-19 and MPV responses, sexual health clinics are coming back online with expanded services.
November 4, 2022 — The Health Department’s community sexual health clinics are re-launching with expanded services, including rapid testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV PrEP continuity of care.
“Our community clinics are affirming, safe places that help New Yorkers celebrate their health and their sex lives,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Our public health clinics and our sexual health and wellness clinics, specifically, have a long history of providing dignified care, while also addressing critical public health needs. Emerging from the worst of COVID-19, this role in our healthcare and public health systems has never been more important. Investments during COVID will support this critical piece of our routine public health infrastructure and we’re thrilled to bring these services back and better than ever.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Department sexual health clinics opened their doors for COVID-19 testing and vaccination. The pandemic response showcased the need for robust public health infrastructure. For example, in 2019 the Health Department opened its Quickie Lab at its Chelsea Express clinic, a state-of-the-art system that provides rapid testing for chlamydia and gonorrhea using the state-of-the-art Cepheid GeneXpert platform—with test results within hours instead of days. Those same machines were able to be deployed for rapid COVID-19 testing beginning in the summer of 2020. Cepheid machines were installed in the Health Department’s other Sexual Health clinics to enable rapid COVID-19 testing throughout the city. Now the Health Department has started to repurpose those machines for rapid chlamydia and gonorrhea testing.
Quickie Lab services have returned to Chelsea Express and we recently opened our Fort Greene Express Clinic for STI testing. Currently four of the city’s eight clinics are providing sexual health services. Corona clinic will be the fifth and opened this week.
In addition, by late November, the Corona clinic will offer HIV PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) continuity of care—the first Health Department clinic to do so. Currently our Sexual Health clinics offer PrEP initiation, with referrals to other health care providers for ongoing care. Our Corona clinic will now offer ongoing PrEP services to patients, including routine periodic testing and monthly prescriptions.
Health Department Sexual Health Clinics have also been on the frontlines of the MPV response, serving as an important safety net provider, particularly during the early months of the outbreak when few providers offered MPV care. The clinics quickly incorporated MPV screening, testing, and treatment into their suite of services. Beginning November 14, the Fort Greene, Jamaica, Chelsea and Morrisania clinics will offer MPV vaccination to patients, as part of the City’s shift to incorporating MPV vaccination into routine medical care.
“Our Sexual Health Clinics are a safety net for New Yorkers across the city and I am excited that we are ready to expand reopening to support our communities and resume quality care that is accessible, sex positive and stigma-free,” said Assistant Commissioner Joaquin Aracena of the Bureau of Public Health Clinics. “We are reopening with an enhanced menu of services and will continue to grow by offering innovative programs that allow us to provide up-to-date, inclusive, and patient-centered sexual health services to all New Yorkers regardless of insurance or immigration status.”
STIs such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and chlamydia are common and curable. However, if left untreated, they can cause lasting health effects, including infertility and chronic pelvic pain. Syphilis can cause vision and hearing loss, dementia, paralysis, and can be passed from a pregnant person to their fetus (congenital syphilis). Having an STI can also make it easier to get or transmit HIV. Most STIs have no signs or symptoms early on, so it is important to get tested routinely or if indicated, and treated promptly. Using condoms during sex can help prevent STIs, and PrEP is a safe and effective medicine to prevent HIV.
The NYC Sexual Health Clinics continue to provide low- to no-cost services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Anyone who is 12 or older can receive services, regardless of immigration status. No parental consent is necessary. If you do not have health insurance or cannot pay the sliding scale fee, you can still get services.
For more on appointments and available services, see: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/services/sexual-health-clinics.page
MEDIA CONTACT: Patrick Gallahue/Pedro Frisneda