A new LGBTQ center opened in South Sacramento this summer, and offers many health services to the LGBTQ community.
The center was named after LGBTQ activist Marsha P. Johnson, who advocated for trans people of color, and the center is a new extension of Midtown Sacramento’s LGBT Center, according to the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement City of Sacramento website.
Los Rios students in South Sacramento can access services such as HIV and STD testing, counseling services, support groups, sexual health education, gender affirming care services and referrals, COVID testing on Thursdays, fentanyl test strips and condom dispensers.
Marsha P. Johnson Center’s Communications and Marketing Manager Jason Alviar said the center’s primary focus serves for the black and brown, queer and trans community.
“We wanted to provide LGBTQ health and wellness services to South Sacramento, especially since the Sacramento LGBT Center in Midtown is not easily accessible to everybody,” Alviar said. “We also wanted to respond to the rise in the HIV infection rate in South Sac, so the center serves to provide HIV testing and help those HIV infection rates down in South Sacramento.”
Alviar said the Marsha P. Johnson Center includes both walk-ins and appointments.
“Most of our services are just walk-ins where folks can just come in, ask a few questions, get an HIV test and leave with more answers and be better educated in what they need,” Alviar said. “We do have mental health services and counseling services where folks can make an appointment through our website on Saccenter.org.”
Aaron Armer, who is the lead HIV tester, sexual health counselor and case manager said the most enjoyable part about working at the center is being there for community members, providing testing and counseling services.
“A lot of people who come in, they don’t have many other spaces what we talk about, which is essentially sex,” Armer said. “We feel a lot more open, speaking to us and so being able to provide that space and making sure that they feel the most comfortable.”
Armer said the center does not offer treatment for HIV, but community members can be referred to other health care facilities if they are tested positive.
“Case managing is essentially being able to make sure that we can connect them to care, get the right medications and treatment that they need,” Armer said. “Even once they do start receiving care somewhere else, we’ll still follow up with them like ‘Hey, have you gone to your appointments, do you have your medication, is there assistance that you need.’”
Leslie Parada, who is the sexual health testing counselor and case manager at the center, said the services are free for the community.
“No one has to pay anything when they come in here,” Parada said. “Everything we provide, we don’t run anything by insurance.”
The Marsha P. Johnson Center is located at 7725 Stockton Blvd. Suite O in South Sacramento and is open Monday-Friday from 12-6 p.m. For more information on the center, visit www.saccenter.org.