NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – When it comes to HIV, new medicines have brought great hope to many.
“HIV may very well be a thing of the past within the next five years in major metropolitan cities, such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, primarily because the communities there have embraced and are using PrEP at such a high number that the number of HIV cases are really falling off,” said Steven Ogooue, Music City PrEP Clinic Director of Community Relations.
Unfortunately, other cities have fallen behind.
“That is not the case nationwide and is certainly not the case when we consider the South. In the South, the numbers are even higher than the national numbers,” Ogooue said.
Now, Music City PrEP is moving its clinic from East to North Nashville to reach those who need them most.
“African Americans lead the demographic as far as HIV is concerned for men, for women, for children age 13-24, and also for the elderly,” Ogooue said. “So we are proud to have the opportunity to move our clinic here in this community that has traditionally been an African American community and position ourselves so closely to Tennessee State University, Fisk, Meharry.”
The clinic will offer free STI testing, as well as HIV prevention and post-exposure treatments. Patients’ identities are protected, and they can also access a variety of other services, including mental health treatment.
Members of the House of Ebony welcomed Music City PrEP to the neighborhood on Saturday. The organization is dedicated to providing LGBTQ resources to the community.
“Generally speaking, there’s lots of stigma when it comes to HIV and the people contracting the virus,” said Steve Townsend with the Tennessee House of Ebony. “I think that once we bring it to the forefront and people are more able to talk about it, there’s going to be more people who are able to get connected to care, more people who are able to get started on medications or to get started on PrEP, and maybe we can irradicate the virus once and for all.”
The House of Ebony planted a memorial tree outside the clinic dedicated to one of its members, Kassandra Ebony, who passed away in 2018.
“We named this tree after her because Kassandra was somebody who was full of life as well as somebody who had grit and a determination to pursue her passions and her dreams, regardless of what her circumstances were,” Townsend said. “Even though she’s no longer with us, this tree serves as a symbol that regardless of what you may be going through, there’s going to be some sunshine and brighter days and some rose-colored flowers around the way for you.”
Music City PrEP will open its doors to patients on Monday. Walk-in patients are welcome, however, an appointment is recommended to avoid wait times.