Doctor appointments can be stressful and scary for everyone, but according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, LGBT individuals often face worse health outcomes than their straight, cisgender counterparts. (To give only a few examples, lesbians are less likely to get preventative services for cancer, queer and trans youth face high rates of suicide and homelessness, gay men of color are at higher risk of STIs, and LGBT populations have high rates of drug and alcohol use.) Despite this, LGBT folks are less likely to have access to adequate healthcare and social services than other groups, due to high poverty rates and discrimination by health care providers.
Cascade AIDS Project hopes to address these disparities at a newly opened health clinic focused on LGBT patients. Located at 2236 SE Belmont Street, Prism Health offers comprehensive primary care as well as transgender health services, HIV and STI testing, mental health services, and an integrated, on-site pharmacy. The 7,750-square-foot space includes 10 exam rooms, several cozily decorated rooms for meetings and mental health counseling, a large supply of free condoms and dental dams, and (of course) several gender-neutral bathrooms.
The first primary clinic of its kind in the state, Prism Health welcomes patients of all identities and income levels—the center accepts both Medicaid and private insurance—but intends to focus its outreach on transgender Oregonians and communities of color. To this end, developers interviewed a dozen trans women of color about their ideas for a truly safe healthcare facility, integrating the feedback into the final plans. Portlanders (especially the 5.5 percent who identify as LGBT) can see the results for themselves starting May 2, when Prism Health accepts its first new patients.