L.A. LGBT Center Will Continue Free HIV Testing, Despite Reports

On Monday, the Center reported that the county's Department of Public Health had slashed testing for more than 30,000 clients.

The largest LGBTQ organization in the world is ending a public advocacy campaign against one of its government funders amid fears it would have to cease free HIV and STI testing on Monday.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has entered negotiations with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH), the Center announced.

In 2018, the Center’s HIV testing and treatment program saw 30,623 clients. All of those were free or low-cost visits. On Monday, the Center reported that DPH had slashed its funding by $1 million over the last year.

“As a result, starting tomorrow, the County will be responsible for ending almost all free STD testing at the Center, causing tens of thousands to go untested, undiagnosed, and untreated,” said L.A. LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean in a statement. “This includes eliminating thousands of free HIV tests funded by DPH.”

The announcement, made on the Center’s webpage and covered by The Advocate, sparked widespread fears that L.A. was walking back its commitment to ending HIV as lawmakers kick off efforts to stamp out the virus statewide. Earlier this month, Sen. Scott Wiener introduced a bill that aims to end the spread of HIV/AIDS in California.

According to a media statement from the Center, pressure from queer Angelenos forced DPH to enter negotiations overnight. The two sides have reached a temporary agreement.

“From phone calls to tweets and emails, their voices were heard and ultimately saved these vital services for our community,” Jean added in the statement.

The agreement, however, is not permanent. According to a source familiar with the accordance, the Center is preparing another public advocacy campaign against DPH in the event that funding is not permanently secured by March.

DPH did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NewNowNext.

Kate Sosin is an award-winning, trans-identified news and investigative reporter.