Your Health Matters seminar raises awareness for LGBT health


Photo credit: Alexa Headley

Soundharjya Babu, Contributor

The Student Alliance for Equality, or S.A.F.E., hosted a Your Health Matters seminar, raising awareness for LGBT health.

Central Outreach Wellness Center was represented in this seminar, emphasizing the importance of having an open conversation about sex education. They are an inclusive infectious disease clinic and are one of the longest practicing HIV offices in the area. They are known for practicing PREP care, which involves taking antibiotics to prevent HIV infection for people who are at risk of contracting it.

“The bulk of what we do is practice pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PREP,” said Matthew Barbour-Roberts, a medical assistant for Central Outreach. “Another thing we do is work with Hepatitis C patients. Hepatitis C is very common with the 65-75 demographic … it is very common with the baby boomers.”

Central Outreach encourages everyone to get tested for both HIV and Hep C. They also give out vaccines to prevent the human papillomavirus or HPV. Barbour-Roberts encourages young people to consider taking this vaccine because of the future consequences of ignoring them.

“For the long term, along with the line, it can lead to certain cancers … uterine cancers, throat cancers, so we want everyone to be vaccinated and protected,” said Barbour-Roberts.

The clinic’s goal is health and safety for their patients, and they work on educating people on common misconceptions of different infectious diseases, especially HIV. Although HIV can be contracted with sexual encounters, there are other risk factors that increase a person’s chance of infection. Unsanitary needles and childbirth can also put people at risk for HIV.

According to Barbour-Roberts and medical assistant Dylan Walsh, it’s important to get tested every three months.

“We offer free, grant-funded screenings anytime … you can come in once a month or even twice a week,” said Barbour-Roberts.

Central Outreach focuses on being inclusive, offering transgender health care and hormone therapy as well. Students involved in S.A.F.E. were educated on a variety of topics they say are stigmatized in society. Sydney Holliday, president of S.A.F.E., describes her personal experience with LGBT healthcare.

“This event is important to me because I think LGBT healthcare is something that we don’t really talk about … I can’t say anybody has ever really given me any LGBT sex education in my entire life, so I think for most of the community they don’t know what to expect and they don’t know how to take care of themselves,” Holliday said.

Dillan Gaydos, a former member of S.A.F.E. and a patient for Central Outreach, also finds the conversation about LGBT sex education important to himself and others.

“This is important to me personally because I myself am on PREP, and I think anyone who is sexually active should be because we are at an age where HIV and AIDS are preventable, so if you can take the steps to prevent something like that, you might as well take them.”

Central Outreach Wellness Center is located in Pittsburgh and in Washington, Pennsylvania. They are open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. For more information, visit their website here.