Whom amongst us has not felt a twinge of panic when you suddenly realize:

“Oh no! What have I done?”
“Did I remember to do that?
“Now what do I do?”

You know the feeling. You’re feeling good, even great. You’re with that special someone and everything is going awesome: you hear heavenly voices, the earth moves AND there are fireworks! Yeah, it’s feels good to be alive! But then reality hits you like a ton of bricks: the condom broke. Your partner tells you he has an STD. Or you didn’t practice safer sex.

CRASH! The lights go out. You’re hit with a wave of cold water. And now you panic. Alone. “Now where do I turn to?” you ask yourself. Isn’t it funny how disaster isolates us? Time for buyer’s remorse the next morning. But fretting by yourself does you no good. You end up magnifying an already bad situation with your isolation and anxiety.

Don’t panic! Take a deep breath and call the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective. When it comes to matters of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, including HIV, people turn us for medical treatment, guidance, reassurance and education. We have been busy helping people confront their problems, surmount them and move on with their lives.

This year we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people testing positive for gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia. From June 1 through October 31 in 2015 we had 178 patient appointments. In that same time span this year, we had 364 patient visits. That’s a 100 percent increase! The numbers are concerning and place significant demands on our resources. Compare the numbers of cases from the 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 fiscal years and what we have seen in the first four months of this fiscal year:

FY 2014 / 2015 FY 2015 / 2016 July 1 –¬†Oct. 31, 2016
Syphilis 9 14 6
Chlamydia 15 11 11
Gonorrhea 12 13 13

 

Since September 1, we have seen 68 new patients. We are glad that people know where they can turn to. We take the panic out of an STD or HIV scare by confronting it head on. Together.

Solutions are achieved through collaboration. The solution to a client’s health issues can only begin when patient and provider decide on a course of action. Similarly, the Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective achieves results because of our collaboration with our donors to sustain the programs and services we provide to the public. We work with you to make results happen in a number of ways: Women’s Health Services (including early detection of breast and cervical cancer), comprehensive Dental Services, patient referrals for LGBT resources, support groups, a community gathering space, the Queer Prom and much more. At our Manchester facility, Health Collective East, we provide meals, food distribution, case management and pet assistance for those living with HIV/AIDS on a fixed income.

The Hartford Gay & Lesbian Health Collective does a lot. And we do it thanks to you and your support. We’re here for everyone to turn to. Since 1983, people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, races, backgrounds and from all over the state and beyond have turned to us to stop the panic, despair and hopelessness. We help our clients and community move forward. Please join us on this journey of progress and support. Our Health is our most precious resource. Your donation keeps everyone’s momentum going. Make 2017 the year without panic and one of progress, partnership and generosity.

Thanking you and wishing you the best in the New Year.

 

Linda Estabrook, MPH
Executive Director