Street Beat's HIV outreach

Planned Parenthood hits the pavement with a mobile unit and swag giveaways.

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With the advent of flashy viruses like SARS and now H1N1, the plight of our city’s hundred thousand plus afflicted with HIV, which affects hard-to-reach populations like drug users, prostitutes and the chronically homeless, runs the risk of being overshadowed. But Planned Parenthood has their backs with their mobile medical unit, Project Street Beat, which enters high-risk areas and dispenses care to people who might be ignored in favor of another swine flu panic.

Project Street Beat’s mobile testing rig would put the A-Team’s black conversion van to shame. It’s a fully functional medical facility with at least one nurse on duty, outfitted for distributing morning-after pills, pregnancy tests, hepatitis C screenings, physicals and counseling. Street Beat staffers—many of them longtime participants, like program director Cliff Brown—conduct HIV screenings every Wednesday and Thursday in Brooklyn, every Monday and Tuesday in the Bronx, and some Fridays in both boroughs. They visit soup kitchens during the day, and shelters and street corners at night. Street Beat entices at-risk citizens with Dignity Packs—swag bags tailored to the neighborhood they’re hitting that day, filled with MetroCards, toothbrushes, food and the like. Planned Parenthood then helps direct visitors to channels where they can obtain proper treatment and advice. For more information about how to support the program, go to ppnyc.org.

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