It’s remarkable to think about: this year alone at Magnet, our gay men’s health center in the Castro, will provide more than 12,000 HIV tests and screenings for other sexually transmitted infections. It’s an impressive level of service that is making a substantial impact on the health of our community.
The staff at Magnet simply could not do all this work without its team of dedicated and skilled volunteers.
Silvio is one of those volunteers. He comes to Magnet every week, working at the front desk to greet guys when they come in for services. After many years of being an active member in our community through his fulltime job, Silvio decided it was time to give back as a volunteer.
“Magnet is a really great place to be,” says Silvio. “I enjoy myself when I’m here. It’s work, for sure. But it’s fun work, and it’s providing such essential services to men in our community.”
Located in the heart of the Castro, Magnet offers free sexual health services including confidential, rapid HIV antibody testing and testing for recent, or “acute,” HIV infection. The wellness center screens and provides treatment for syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, as well as offers Hepatitis A and B vaccinations. Magnet also provides education to gay men about their sexual health and ways they can take care of themselves and their partners.
In addition to sexual health services, Magnet is an art gallery, lounge, and neighborhood gathering space offering massage, acupuncture, and a variety of cultural events. Magnet’s holistic approach promotes the physical, mental, and social well-being of all gay and bi men.
“Magnet is such an accessible space for guys to come to,” says Silvio. “Getting an HIV test or an STI screening can be worrisome for some people, but Magnet is an inviting place that eliminates the stigma that can be associated with going in for a test.”
“It’s so important to have this resource in this neighborhood, and I just want to help,” says Silvio. “I know that by being here as a volunteer, I’m doing something good for everyone who walks through our doors.”
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of Magnet. We’d not be here without them. I love being able to give someone the opportunity to be of service to San Francisco in a meaningful way,” says Corey Sayles, Magnet’s volunteer manager. “I get joy in seeing how volunteers are able to help guys learn more about their health. And, volunteers don’t need to have a medical background to become part of the team.”
There are a variety of volunteer opportunities at Magnet, including working at the front desk, providing office support, or being the face of Magnet at any number of special events throughout the month. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, go here.
In addition, San Francisco AIDS Foundation offers a broad array of ways for people to volunteer. Fill out this brief survey to let us know how you'd like to help, and we'll let you know when good opportunities arise.
Have you ever volunteered for the foundation? What was the experience like? Why do you think it's important to give back to our community, like Silvio?
The best way to fight HIV is to know your status. A simple test can determine if you are infected with the virus.
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