Magnet is a nurse and peer led Sexual Health service in San Francisco. It recently co-located with Strut (San Francisco AIDS Foundation) and a number of other organisations working in the sector. I was warmly welcomed by Joshua O’Neill (HIV Testing Services Manager) and Pierre Crouch (Nurse Director).
The clinic opens 6 days a week and provides the following services:
- Free STI testing and treatment on site and in mobile units around the city. The mobile clinics occur 3-4 times/week and with a bacterial STI pick up rate of approximately 8-10%, they provide an invaluable service to those who do not access mainstream STI services. Rapid HIV and Hep C (Ab) testing are also offered.
- PEP is offered free of charge.
- PrEP is provided to individuals through several sources. Depending on health insurance status, PrEP may be funded under an individual’s health care plan. For those with inadequate or no private health insurance, Magnet has health insurance navigators to assist the process. Like in Australia, a high proportion of individuals import PrEP via the internet. Magnet is also a part of a double blinded RCT of 5000 HIV negative MSM randomised to receive either Truvada or F/TAF as daily HIV PrEP. This trial is not being conducted in Australia.
- Under the Stonewall project offered by Strut, free individual or group counselling for support regarding drug or alcohol use.
- An art gallery and lounge aiming to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of gay men.
- Social events for a variety of groups including transgendered and African American MSM.
- STI testing and access to emergency HIV medication, PrEP or PEP to those visiting from abroad (no charge for a one month supply)
Take home messages from the visit:
1. Mobile STI screening units provide an excellent way to reach MSM who may not access traditional STI testing and treatment services. With an STI pick up rate 8-10%, they create an excellent opportunity not only to diagnose and treat bacterial STIs, but also to reduce the number of undiagnosed people living with HIV. The benefits to both the individual and the community are obvious.
2. Australian’s visiting who have misplaced their HAART or PrEP, or those who require PEP while away, are most welcome to attend the clinic and will be offered a free 4 week supply of medication. It’s worth knowing about this as many of our patients travel to San Francisco.
3. The staff have hosted a number of international visitors in recent years and they welcome the opportunity to show health professional services when visiting San Francisco.