In March of this year, the most popular free STD clinic in New York City was shut down. BuzzFeed reports it was the third closing of a major NYC clinic in five years, and one of the many “discreet changes” to public health services made since 2010. Turns out, when you spends less money on STD prevention, STD rates go up!
That obvious correlation can be seen in this chart, provided by ACT and the Treatment Action Group:
Was Demetre Daskalakis, the “assistant health commissioner in charge of the Bureau of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control,” asked about this growing problem? Yes. Did he have any clear answers? No.
“Were there funding cuts in New York that have caused significant decreases in services at the STD clinics? Yes. Do we need to fix them? Yes. Are we working as a department to fix them? Yes.”
Daskalakis went on to defend the loss of access to free clinics, saying, “The fewer people we have to pay for as a provider of last resort for HIV testing, the more successful we are in doing our job.”
But that response didn’t sit well with AIDS advocates, who pointed out “that the city’s free clinics target high-risk groups — such as young gay men of color — who don’t have private health care.”
In a statement to BuzzFeed, James Krellenstein of ACT UP said, “It is public health malpractice to knowingly reduce access at these points of care.” He’s not wrong.
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Images via AP / ACT UP