Health Services

HIV Testing & STI Screening Services

WE’RE BACK!

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach and its Health Services Team are proud to announce that we have reopened our LGBTQ focused and affirming STI screening, diagnosing and treatment program.

STI SCREENING Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

10:00am – 7:00pm

HIV TESTING Monday – Friday

10:00am – 7:00pm

Appointments ONLY

Promotional material available here for download

VISIT OUR FAQs FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you are experiencing symptoms related to STIs or have been notified by a partner that you may have been exposed – please call  our team directly to schedule a telehealth call with our provider BEFORE scheduling an appointment.
CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF LOCAL PROVIDERS OFFERING SIMILAR SERVICES THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR

The Basics of HIV & STI Testing 

The LGBTQ Center Long Beach is dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community to increase awareness around HIV testing & STI screening and reduce stigma around sexual health. Our Health Services team can help you better understand sexual health issues that disproportionately impact our community, by providing affirming and LGBTQ specific education, counseling and additional resources.

We pride ourselves on our approachable, simple, and client-centered services. The HIV tests offered are FREE of cost to our patients,  highly accurate, and completely confidential, with results that come back in as little as 1-minute. For complete HIV testing services, we ask for you to allow 20 minutes of your time to speak to a counselor before the test is administered. Whether your reason for getting tested is routine or urgent, we are here to help you consider your health first. Do you know your status? If not, make an appointment and we can help.

There are now more resources than ever before to help people maintain their sexual health, specially those disproportionately impacted by HIV & STIs. This program and its care is focused on supporting LGBTQ+ people in Long Beach who have no other place to go.

We are unique in that we screen areas like the throat and rectum for gonorrhea and chlamydia and have detected more cases from those areas many other general care clinics. The included one-on-one counseling provides simple ways to talk to your partners about sex, ways to reduce exposure to virus and bacteria, and how to establish a testing and screening routine. We can also help our patients with access to free condoms, insertive-condoms, lubricant and more.

More than half of the new cases of HIV in Long Beach were among LGBTQ people of color and, although cases are dropping we still have work to do to get to zero new infections. Bacterial STIs, like Chlamydia and Gonorrhea which are curable continue to rise in Long Beach with Gonorrhea increasing by 154% from 2017 and 2018. Syphilis also continues to increase with an 85% rise in the same period making Long Beach the third highest rate of total early syphilis in the State of California.

Make sure you have a routine schedule for STI screening and HIV testing to help reduce the spread of STIs.

STI Screening

In response to the COVID-19 guidelines, screening for STIs are currently available on a scheduled appointment ONLY. No walk-ins will be permitted until further notice. 
The Health Services team provides STI screening on site free of cost to our patients. STI related exams as well as screenings by a Nurse Practitioner for syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia are available via tele-health only and will be scheduled ahead of time. We strive to make all of our services accessible to LGBTQ individuals who do not have insurance, those who are underinsured or who do not feel comfortable discussing their sexual health with their own provider. STI screening is available for anyone in need. Donations are always welcome.

Having sex with one or more people and if those people are having sex with other people increases your chance of coming into contact with an STI. We recommend getting regular check-ups for HIV and STIs – the CDC recommends getting tested every 3 or 6 months. If you think you have HIV or an STI or find out you had sex with someone who does, get tested and treated as soon as possible.

If you find out that you have HIV or an STI, let those individuals know as soon as you can. Sharing this information sooner rather than later can help them get tested and treated as well. This helps stop the spread of that STD in your circles as well as those you may not know you’re connected to. STIs have a tendency to spread quickly in small cities, in social circles and networks having the potential of coming back full circle many times over if treatment is taken.

STDs and HIV-Positive Men

For people living with HIV, STIs can take longer to treat and can be more likely to lead to serious complications. Complications from STIs can also be more severe, and progress rapidly in people living with HIV. Visit your primary care provider on a regular basis, and ask about routine testing for STIs (including Syphilis) every three months, or with your regularly scheduled exam and blood work. Also, if you get an STD, it’s important to get treated quickly. Those exposed to syphilis, will not only need to get treated right away, but will need to have a follow-up test to ensure you have been cured of your infection.

Know the HIV-STI connection

If you’re HIV-negative and have an STI like Syphilis or Gonorrhea, you are 2 to 5 times more likely to become HIV infected if you have sex without a condoms or barrier with an HIV-positive partner. People who are HIV-positive and have an STI are more likely to transmit HIV to their partner.

If you have more than one partner, get HIV/STI check-ups every 3-6 months. HIV and STIs often cause no symptoms at first, but can cause serious problems later. Not having symptoms does not always mean you don’t have an active STI.

Additional STI Screening Resources

The Center’s STI screening program provides quality LGBTQ sexual health services to those who do not have access screening and treatment services anywhere else. Our staff works to address the specific needs of the LGBTQ community by providing informed and competent care, tailored to their needs. Due to the high volume of clients making appointments to receive our specialized services, appointments may take up to a week from the time of scheduling. If you are unable to wait, please reach out to the following organizations that also provide free STI screening:

APLA Health Long Beach (call ahead to schedule a visit)
1043 Elm Ave. Suite 302 Long Beach, CA 90813
562-247-7740
Mon-Fri: 8:30 am-10:15 am & 1-3:15 pm
The CARE Center – St. Mary Medical (call ahead to schedule a visit)
1043 Elm Ave. Suite 300 Long Beach, CA 90813
562-624-4917
Mon-Fri: 8:30 am-4:30 pm
AHF – Out of the Closet (call ahead to schedule a visit)
3500 E Pacific Coast Hwy Long Beach, CA 90804
323-243-0638
Mon – Wed – Fri: 8:30 am-5:00 pm

Need more than just STI screening services? Click here to search for a clinic near you that could help with more services.

Preventative Care- PEP & PrEP

PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) means taking antiretroviral medicines (ART) after being potentially exposed to HIV to prevent becoming infected. PEP should be used only in emergency situations and must be started within 72 hours after a recent possible exposure to HIV. If you think you’ve recently been exposed to HIV during sex or through sharing needles and works to prepare drugs or if you’ve been sexually assaulted, talk to your health care provider or an emergency room doctor about PEP right away.

If you’re prescribed PEP after a sexual assault, you may qualify for partial or total reimbursement for medicines and clinical care costs through the Office for Victims of Crime, funded by the US Department of Justice (see the contact information for each state).

If you’re prescribed PEP for another reason and you cannot get insurance coverage (Medicaid, Medicare, private, or employer-based), your health care provider can apply for free PEP medicines through the medication assistance programs run by the manufacturers. Online applications can be faxed to the company, or some companies have special phone lines. These can be handled urgently in many cases to avoid a delay in getting medicine.

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is when people at high risk for HIV take HIV medicines daily to lower their chances of getting infected. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. It is highly effective for preventing HIV if used as prescribed, but it is much less effective when not taken consistently. Daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90%. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70%. Your risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower if you combine PrEP with condoms and other prevention methods. Click here to get a CDC brochure on how to speak to your doctor about getting on PrEP.

Looking for PrEP in Long Beach? Here are some location near the Center that can help:

Long Beach Department of Health
2525 Grand Ave. Long Beach, CA 90815
562-570-4315
The CARE Program at St. Mary’s Dignity Health
1043 Elm Ave., Long Beach, CA 90813
562-624-4999
APLA Health Long Beach
1043 Elm Ave. Suite 302 Long Beach, CA 90813
562-247-7752
If you have any questions or for more information about PEP or starting PrEP, please call us at the Center at:  (562) 434-4455  or email: healthed@centerlb.org 

Frequently Asked Questions

We strive to be able to answer as many questions as possible and also know that there may be more questions than what’s listed below. If you have a question that falls outside of the ones listed here, please do not hesitate to email us at healthed@centerlb.org or call the front desk at 562-434-4455.

What is the difference between “Walk-Up” and “Walk-In”?

We are currently offering the option for people to drive-up for HIV testing, where the sample can be collected at a car window. This is in response to COVID-19 concerns for folks at most risk – giving them the option to test in the added security of their vehicles. For those who were seeking similar care and did not have a vehicle, The Center offers the option to walk-up to the testing window to conduct the rapid HIV test. Before COVID-19 prevention guidelines where added, people could walk-in for the rapid HIV test or STI screening program during open office hours. This has changed as we do not have the space for to accommodate a large turn-out for services without increasing the risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

How has accessing HIV testing changed after COVID-19?

The Center will continue to offer the best LGBTQ affirming care in Long Beach and our approach to providing rapid HIV testing has not changed. Now that we are observing physical distancing and are still working as a community to keep the curve bent, we will be offering HIV testing as a drive-up or walk up service. That means services will take place outside in the parking lot and will be little to no contact. Everyone will be asked to make an appointment to get tested to ensure we do not have a waiting area where people may not be more then 6-feet apart.

Do I have to wear and bring any additional protective equipment when I get tested?

It is recommended from all levels of public health, that people where face coverings when every you are in public, regardless of signs or symptoms. We at The Center will be observing that precaution and requiring ALL CLIENTS being test for HIV to have a proper face covering on when accessing services. We also understand that not everyone may have access to face covering and we will do what we can to accommodate you if possible. This has been a proven method of preventing the spread of the coronavirus and there will be NO EXCEPTIONS.

What if I don’t have a car to drive-up in?

Driving up will be much easier, but we understand that not everyone has access to a vehicle all the time. The first option would be to ask someone you trust to give you a ride. One additional person will be allowed to be in the vehicle at a time, however, we prefer to do this on a one-on-one basis. If the person driving you can step away for a few minutes, that would help the process and make sure your information stays as confidential as possible. If this isn’t an option, you can always book your appointment as a walk-up and wait in one of two waiting areas. You will be called over to a pop-up tent to provide you sample and return to the waiting area for your results. We recommend bringing earphones for you phone if you want to avoid people over hearing your conversation.

How will I fill out forms and provide information?

Since COVID-19 and the introduction of physical distancing, The Center has been using Ring Central powered by Zoom to hold “face-to-face” conversations with staff, colleagues and clients. If  you have a smart phone with a front facing camera we may be able to connect with Telehealth to review your risk assessment, answer questions and even go over your results. Forms that were printed and provided to you, will now be emailed to you when you make your appointment so you can fill them out on your smartphone and not touch shared pens or clip-boards. If you don’t have a smartphone or one with the options listed above, you and the testing counselor can have an over the phone conversation once they are able to confirm that it is you on the end of the phone.

Will my conversation and questions be private? 

No, not 100% private. If you are in your own vehicle and no one is with you, only you and the counselor will be part of the conversation. Since we are offering services in a public space to increase air flow and maximize social distance, the general public will know you’re in the parking lot and, if you are a walk-up tester, people near by may hear the conversation. If you agree to the updated consent form, we can ensure that the conversation held in close proximity to others will be as confidential as possible. If you do not agree, there are local agencies that has started to take clients into their clinics for similar services. We can refer you to the ones we would recommend if you chose to. All information collected at The Center and stored with the health services department is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA.

Can I take the HIV test anonymously? 

No. Since 2006, HIV testing became available as a confidential test only. This has not changed with the current drive-up/walk-up testing program. We do not share any of your information with anyone other than the Los Angeles County Public Health Department and the information shared is to support you in accessing medical care if needed. A counselor will ask you for consent or understanding of the consent if this will apply to you. All information collected at The Center and stored with the health department is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA.

How long will I need to wait for my HIV test result?

In the effort to minimize your time in your car and in the parking lot, The Center has been approved by the Los Angeles Public Health Department Division of HIV and STD Programs (DHSP) to provide out clients the one-minute INSTI rapid HIV testing kit. This kits is known as a third generation HIV test and can detect IgG and IgM antibodies, producing result to the testing counselor in one minute. With the drive-up and walk-up program, results will be available to the client in 5-minutes allowing time for the tester to take you sample inside and process in a controlled environment.

Is the “window period” the same as the last test offered?

After exposure to HIV, it can take 3 to 12 weeks (21-84 days) for an infected person’s body to make enough antibodies for a screening test to detect them. This is called the window period. IgM is typically released around 3 weeks after infection which is one of the antibodies the INSTI Test is designed to detect. An individual may test positive with the INSTI Test in as little as 21-22 days after infection, however it can take as long as 3 months to produce a positive result. Approximately 97% of people will develop detectable antibodies during this window period. A negative result may not be accurate until 3 months after the infection. If someone has been exposed to HIV and obtains a negative test result during the window period, they should re-test 3 months after possible exposure to HIV.

How long to I have to wait for my appointment?

This is the first time we are offering drive up testing services and have yet to know what the response will be from the community. We are anticipating that next-day appointments may be an option, however, with services limited to two days a week spots may fill up quick. Please be prepared to expect to get an appointment as early as 2 days from when you call or as long a week ahead of when you call. We will not be to accommodate same day appointments or walk-ins at this time. Each person will be screened for 20-hours before their appointment.

Is the Center offering STI screening?

No, not at this time. We understand that HIV and STI go hand-in-hand and are working at developing a plan to provide screening and treatment services soon. In the meantime, the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services can schedule appointment for active or confirmed syphilis cases and medical providers are able to take non-urgent appointments to help screen for STIs like gonorrhea and chlamydia. Please follow us on social media with the handle @centerlb to keep up to date on when STI screening will become available.

When will The Center offer a full HIV and STI panel?

Right now, we are rolling out testing services in three phases. Phase 1, includes rapid HIV testing, linkage to medical care and referrals for PrEP services at one of three resources in Long Beach. Phase 2 (which will roll out once social distancing protocols are developed for blood draws) will include at-home STI screening along with the drive-up/walk-up HIV testing program. And finally, Phase 3 will include on-site, yet limited and appointment based, STI screening inside the facility. All while ensuring proper ventilation is possible, social distance is observed, hand hygiene is accessible to all and personal protective equipment (PPE) continues to be in stock and available to purchase.

THE BASICS
STI SCREENING
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
PEP & PrEP

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