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LGBTQ-Friendly Health Care Offered Near Lake Shore Campus

Carly Behm | The PHOENIXHoward Brown, located a mile from Loyola's Lake Shore Campus, provides health care options for the LGBTQ community.

Some students relied on Planned Parenthood, formerly located on North Broadway Street, for their reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood relocated to Edgewater last year, but the Howard Brown Clinic offers another alternative.

Howard Brown (6500 N. Clark St.) is about a mile away from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. It opened in 2015 and provides sexual health care, including testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIS), birth control and reproductive health maintenance. Howard Brown focuses on providing free and affordable health care for the LGBTQ community and has clinics throughout Chicago in neighborhoods such as Uptown, Lakeview, Hyde Park, Englewood, Fuller Park and Edgewater.

Loyola’s Wellness Center offers sexual health services, such as STI and HIV tests, and this semester it started prescribing post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), according to director Joan Holden. PEP prevents an HIV infection if taken within 72 hours of possible exposure, according to the CDC. The Wellness Center also has women’s health services, but only provides birth control for medical purposes, according to its website.

Howard Brown was named after Dr. Howard Brown, who founded the National LGBTQ Task Force advocacy organization in 1973, according to the clinic’s website.

The Planned Parenthood once located near Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus relocated to 5725 N. Broadway St. in fall 2017 after the Woodruff Arcade building it was housed in was vacated.

To get to the relocated Planned Parenthood, students have to travel from the CTA Red Line to the Bryn Mawr stop. The Rogers Park Howard Brown clinic is about eight minutes away from the Lake Shore Campus by bus.

At its Rogers Park location, Howard Brown provides testing for STIs, HIV, women’s health care and transgender health care.

Howard Brown in Rogers Park is one of three locations in Chicago which offers walk-in sexual health care, according to communications manager Erik Roldan. It also offers general primary care and services by appointment.

About 61 percent of patients served in 2016 identify as LGBTQ, according to the most recent community impact report about Howard Brown’s patient demographics and services.

Loyola sophomore Andrew Taylor volunteers at Howard Brown’s Youth Center in Uptown. Taylor said he helps the youth center with research to improve care for transgender and gender-nonconforming patients. He said he likes contributing and helping Howard Brown become stronger.

“It’s really rewarding seeing … how much work [the staff] put in and knowing that the work that I’m doing could possibly result in Howard Brown getting an increase in funding and then eventually accessing a greater portion of the community,” the 19-year-old, political science major said.

Patients can receive services at Howard Brown through their insurance, and the clinic provides free treatment for those who are uninsured or can’t afford the full price. Funding from donors and grants allows Howard Brown to serve anyone who comes to a clinic, according to Roldan.

In 2017, Howard Brown received just over $6.5 million in funding from government contracts and $617,133 in donations, according to its most recent annual report.

Roldan said President Donald Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Obama-era Affordable Care Act worries some patients at Howard Brown. The Affordable Care Act required Americans to obtain health care, but Trump’s tax bill, passed last December, eliminated the requirement to enroll in health insurance. 

“Right now, we’re really concerned with the efforts to chip away at the Affordable Care Act,” Roldan said. “It’s really a concern for our patients that the government is trying to strip away this safety net.”

The White House didn’t respond to The Phoenix’s request for comment.

While Howard Brown specializes in LGBTQ health care, Roldan said anyone can come to the clinics.

“It’s definitely an expertise that we have, but we apply the principles of inclusion affirming quality care to all of our patients,” he said.

Although Howard Brown and Planned Parenthood overlap in some of their services, Taylor said he doesn’t think the two are focused on competing with each other.

“I think Howard Brown’s attention to detail and accessing the LGBT community overlaps with Planned Parenthood in a lot of ways, but I don’t think they’re necessarily competing or driving each other out in any sense,” Taylor said. “I think they’re only helping each other in their mission to better cover those communities which are disproportionately uncovered in health care.”

Planned Parenthood works in conjunction with Howard Brown by referring patients to Howard Brown and doing outreach events with Howard Brown, according to an email to The Phoenix from Julie Lynn, manager of external affairs at Planned Parenthood for Illinois.

First-year student Hannah Reese said she heard of Howard Brown but wasn’t too familiar with it. She said she thinks inclusive medical services are valuable.

“I think that every person, no matter how they identify, should always be recognized and always be given help no matter any circumstance,” the 19-year-old undecided major said.

Senior Liliana Diaz said she thinks having accessible sexual health care is important, but she wished Howard Brown’s services were advertised more.

“I didn’t know about it and I’ve been here for four years,” the 22-year-old environmental science major said. “I wish it would have been more known.”

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