Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in New York has announced it is opening a ‘state-of-the-art’ substance abuse clinic.
The launch of the clinic comes just a few months after the NGO launched its first, dedicated, mental health clinic: the Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic.
In a statement, GMHC said it was opening at the clinic at a time when drug overdose deaths in NYC have reach a record high – jumping by 50% last year alone.
The clinic officially opens on Wednesday (27 September).
There were 1,374 overdose-related deaths in NYC in 2016. Some of these are linked to the rise in abuse of Fentanyl. This is a particularly dangerous synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. It is very easy to overdose on.
The clinic will be open to all New Yorkers, but GMHC says that LGBTI people are more likely to experience drug problems.
GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie told GSN: ‘Access to affordable, quality substance use services is a crucial component of health care, especially in comprehensive HIV care.
‘What’s even more exceptional and significant about this clinic is the ability to directly work with individuals who have a dual diagnosis of substance use and mental health issues.
‘The Substance Use Clinic and Carl Jacobs Mental Health Clinic—housed next to each other at GMHC—will address the emotional and psychological needs often experienced by people living with or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. These clinics will help all clients served lead healthier lives.’
Many gay and bi men who have contracted HIV have done so whilst engaging in risky sexual behavior. This is sometimes fuelled by substance abuse issues. At the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where HIV testing is carried out, a spokesperson told GSN that around a third of positive HIV diagnosis are linked to crystal meth use.
In London, leading STU clinic, 56 Dean Street, estimates that around 40% of its clients have used drugs.
‘A safe and nonjudgmental environment’
Louie suggests tackling substance abuse is an important component in reducing the spread of HIV.
‘Serving our clients and the community in a safe and nonjudgmental environment is an important tool in the campaign to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York State by 2020.
‘Our vital harm reduction and substance use services will increase access to care and help individuals living with HIV/AIDS remain virally suppressed, and prevent high-risk individuals from contracting HIV.’
For more information, check the GMHC website.