Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=217985
Story Retrieval Date: 3/7/2014 6:04:45 PM CST
When the AIDS epidemic hit the United States in the 1980s, there were many unanswered questions about both the disease and the culture of being homosexual.
As a result, LGBT health clinics starting cropping up in big cities across the nation to aid those affected by both the disease and the stigma of being homosexual.
“LGBT specific health clinics historically did get their start because of the AIDS epidemic. That was a time of very little knowledge of the health issue and very little acceptance of homosexuals,” said Hector Vargas, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.
In Chicago there are several, including Howard Brown that opened before the AIDS epidemic started, and Center on Halsted, which opened in 2007.
Throughout the past couple of decades, these clinics have remained a comfort to the LGBT population even as more knowledge became available to the general public.
“The two things that many LGBTs seeking health care look for are a welcoming environment and a competent staff for their specific needs,” Vargas said. “An LGBT health clinic is just going to guarantee those two things will be addressed for them.”
Although LGBT culture has started to enter mainstream culture, with nine states legalizing gay marriage and Illinois trying to become the 10th, Vargas does not see the need for LGBT health clinics to go away any time in the near future.
“Nowadays, we need to make sure that all health providers have the training that is necessary to address LGBT health needs,” Vargas said.
“This doesn’t always happen, so for the foreseeable future I think the need for these specific health clinics will be there.”