NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – There are more than 8,000 people living with HIV in Hampton Roads. That’s according to the LGBT Life Center, which will soon offer a new medication to prevent HIV.
They will offer that medication at their first clinic, which is set to open in December in Hampton. Currently, they do not have a full support center on the Peninsula, but know there is a need in that community.
“We have a lot of clients in Hampton that were really looking for clinical support services,” said Christopher Reybrouck, who is the Chief Development Officer of the LGBT Life Center.
Because there is a high number of HIV infections in the region, they are hoping this becomes another tool people use to take control of their health.
The new clinic will be focused on PrEP, an HIV prevention medication.
“PrEP is for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion,” said Michelle Reed, who is the Prevention Manager for PrEP services at the LGBT Life Center.
Right now, you can only get PrEP at EVMS and the health department. The LGBT Life Center wants to be place number three.
Reed said, “If we have this tool that can be put into the toolbox to use with condoms, then we can continue to reduce the rates of new infections.”
Reed is heading up the PrEP services at the new clinic.
According to Reed, there are some social barriers to the drug.
“The assumption is that I’m taking a pill to prevent HIV, so I may have a lot of sex partners, or I may engage in a lot of behaviors that one may not find attractive, and that’s not the case,” said Reed. “Someone that is taking PrEP, they are taking a preventative medication.”
There is a cost associated with the drug. Without insurance, it could cost $1,700 per month. The LGBT Life Center is helping people get the medication either for free or at a reduced cost.
Employees believe these services are necessary for the Hampton Roads area.
“There is a need for this clinic and the need for a LGBT center that is bold and progressive. I think that’s been a need in this area for a really long time and we’re excited to step up to the plate,” said Reybrouck.
The LGBT Life Center is also looking to move into a larger facility on the Southside. There, they are planning to open another clinic and their own pharmacy.