Strut’s New Treatments for HIV/AIDS

 

 

 

 

If you’ve noticed some new and exciting activity on the main drag of Castro Street outside of the usual nightlife and daytime strolls, you’re not alone. After almost four years of construction and planning, the center is almost set to open, with a soft open planned for what will hopefully be before the end of October, according to SF AIDS Foundation CEO Neil Giuliano.

 

With fundraising almost complete — now at $12 million of their $15 million goal — the program is still on its way to the grand vision created through extensive research in collaboration with Bain & Co. and the city of San Francisco.

 

The new program will be called Strut, a name which is so greatly suited to this new wave of treatment as it functions as the pivot from treatment focused on disease and sickness, and into a phase of treatment as holistic service. The new name invokes the center’s goals to encourage its visitors to walk with pride, to have no fear, and to focus on the strength of the community.

 

This vision works on the new, optimistic — yet no longer improbable — belief that we can see the eradication of AIDS in our lifetime. In order for this to happen, the new center at 470 Castro St. will lead a global movement in this new form of AIDS and HIV treatment for the new nature of the disease in the 21st century.

 

What is most important to remember for the shifting tides is that AIDS and HIV no longer have to be a death sentence. Now, with proper treatment those with the virus can live — and live well.

 

Although this change is in the air, there are still 50,000 new infections per year in America, with roughly 300 of those occurring in San Francisco. An overwhelming 90 percent of those cases were in gay or bisexual men. If these statistics are any indication at all of worldwide trends, it is gay leaders and gay organizations that are set to take center stage on the elimination of the disease.

 

 

Because of this, the changes our city and the SF AIDS Foundation make toward treating, healing, and preventing the spread of the disease will be looked to by many international contemporaries. In fact, Amsterdam’s vice mayor, Eric van der Burg, will be in San Francisco in October to watch and learn from the efforts that our fair city is leading for this cause.

 

“We have a large responsibility,” says Giuliani. “People are watching us.”

 

The center will function on a transmission prevention model that will teach not only safe sex but also offer services for mental well-being, aid for drug addiction, workshops on navigating health care systems, as well as community support groups for some of the most afflicted communities such a young bisexual black men (DREAAM) and gay men over 50 (50 Plus).

 

The Foundation aims to make Strut an inviting place in one of the most inviting neighborhoods in which to be gay in the whole of the nation. To mirror the changing face of AIDS and HIV in both the media and the global community, so too must the face of treatments and clinics change.

 

 

 

“The days of the old STD clinic hidden in the community… are long over in SF”, Giuliano said. Instead the center will focus on operating out of a space of no shame and no stigma, a stance that they hope will spread to all considerations of the virus within the gay community and the world at large.

 

The goal is for those who are infected to stay healthy, get the care they need, and to practice safe sex, and to, ultimately, get them to a level where they are no longer infectious, something that can finally be seen as a possibility.

 

Until the 470 center opens later this month, you can learn more about their campaign, their goals, their research, and their ethos on their website at StrutSF.org.

 

The best way to help at this phase to learn more and to change the stigma both within the gay community and within the community at large.

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