California: Youth Voice Concerns at Hearing on HIV
September 5, 2003
San Francisco needs to improve its health care services for young people, and its gay community needs to be more welcoming to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who come to the city seeking acceptance, speakers said at a recent forum on HIV and youth. District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty convened the Aug. 21 hearing, the second he has called this year to examine the city's HIV epidemic. More than 50 people attended.Adapted from:
"Our city is seen by many as a mecca for LGBT youth but are we truly embracing of people?" Dufty asked at the meeting's outset. "I am concerned we may not be as welcoming and caring as we could be and we need to change that."
In addition to social acceptance, many speakers also said the young people need places to go in the evenings. "We don't have enough community programs. We don't have structures in place outside of going to bars," said Ned Howey, who founded the organization QForce for gay young people.
Compared to the rest of the United States, San Francisco and other West coast cities are doing a better job of stopping HIV among young people. Nationally, young people account for 25 percent of new HIV infections, but in San Francisco, they account for only 7 percent, health officials said. However, the officials admit they are failing to provide services to youth, especially those with drug addictions. Despite the city's treatment-on-demand policy, most substance abuse programs have two- to three-week waits.
"For the young population we see, their primary mode of receiving care is through the jails because the health care system is primarily focused on adults," said Dr. Jorge Partida, director of the Department of Public Health's Substance Abuse Services. "We need to increase dialogue between departments that work with children and pull our resources together to come up with a more comprehensive program for youth."
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
08.28.2003; Matthew S. Bajko
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.