With goals to get to zero new HIV infections and to reach more queer and trans people of color (QTPOC), Strut welcomes the QTPOC community for a social, learning and wellness group at Strut every Thursday evening. During the events, community members have the opportunity to access free PrEP services or to find out more about the health services offered at Strut. This group—by and for queer and trans people of all ages—welcomes people who have never accessed health and wellness services at Strut or who may feel excluded from the predominantly white neighborhood of the Castro.
“It’s up to organizations like ours to be vocal in inviting and making space for communities that are disproportionately affected by the epidemic to access services,” said Felipe Flores, manager of PrEP benefits and navigation at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “We invite communities of color to come through our doors and connect with staff, programming and services for and by them. This is important, and it’s a change for QTPOC who have historically been and are typically left out of these spaces.”
The group brings attendees in with free events featuring panel discussions, arts and crafts, speakers and entertainment. Past events featured poetry readings, holiday gift-making, film screenings and panel discussions on cultural topics in collaboration with the QTPOC media organization EFNIKS.
“For some people, coming to these events is about finding community. For others, it’s about getting out of a space of isolation. People have said they like coming to these events to meet new people and just have something to do in the community that isn’t focused on spending money,” said Kay Nilsson, PrEP outreach and engagement coordinator for San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
At every event, attendees have the option of accessing health services. HIV, STI and PrEP appointments are held open for people attending QTPOC at Strut. Immediately prior to the group, a substance use support group for people of color gathers in a nearby room.
The group is seeing success engaging new people and connecting them to services. Roughly half of attendees are new to Strut and many access health services and information while they are there. In the previous year, QTPOC at Strut events have increased the percentage of people of color who use services at the clinic at Strut.
“We are definitely seeing more queer and trans people of color accessing services at Strut, which is exciting,” said Flores. “We want to make sure that people most at risk for HIV and those for whom our clinic is the only option for PrEP are able to access services.”
Join QTPOC at Strut, Thursdays 5 pm – 8 pm at Strut (470 Castro Street in San Francisco). For more information about PrEP services at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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