Street smarts: L’Actuel opens storefront location
A pillar of Village sexual health since 1987, the Clinique l’Actuel has expanded to a new street-level location as of this week. L’Actuel sur rue, as it will be known, will specialize in improving access to rapid testing, and figuring out why so many newly infected people do not know their status.
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L’Actuel sur rue, the brainchild of HIV/AIDS specialist Réjean Thomas, is modelled on similar testing and prevention centres in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Geneva, and Paris. With its storefront location on the main drag, at 1359 Ste-Catherine Est (corner of Panet), the clinic will combine community-based consultation with medical services. The easily accessible location and expanded hours (including evenings and weekends) are aimed at encouraging people considered “high-risk” to access testing, which is sometimes inconvenient in hospitals and entails long waits in private clinics.
Condoms and presumed negativity
The location will boast a team of nurses and intervention workers supervised by a director of medical services. The team will offer counselling as as free rapid VIH and Hep C testing, along with Hep A + B vaccination. As expected, there will be condom distribution on site, as well as literature on pre and post-exposure prophylactics.
For Réjean Thomas, the new clinic’s user-friendly structure was a necessary endeavour, given the extent to which many in the gay community seem to have lowered their guard, particularly as far as HIV is concerned. Interviewed by news station TVA, Dr. Thomas told the story of a young man in his 20s for whom wearing a condom was no longer seen as a basic precaution, but rather an admission that once is an HIV carrier. It’s this kind of collective denial that has led to the troubling statistic of 25% of HIV Québeckers not knowing their status. This minority is in turn responsible for half of the 400-600 new infections per year in Québec alone.
L’Actuel sur rue will be open every day (except Wednesdays), from 10am to 4pm Mon-Tues, 2pm-8pm Thurs-Fri, and noon-5pm on weekends. For more info, check out www.lactuelsurrue.com