story by Diane Duke and Robin Beaudoin | photos courtesy of The Corner
On November 4th, Friends For Life opened a clinic in the Cooper Young District that provides same-day PrEP and PEP at no charge regardless of insurance status. The Corner, which presents like a gallery more than a clinic, is the first of its kind in the Mid-South. With Memphis’ ranking of number 8 in the nation for new HIV diagnoses, the clinic will afford people a critical, free outlet for testing and prevention of HIV.
Eric Paul Leue, Director of Prevention for Friends for Life, notes the previous lack of access in our city. “Access to PrEP and PEP was extremely limited in the Mid-South due to cost. Another barrier to access is lack of awareness and understanding about PrEP and misguided perceptions about its users. PrEP is for everyone, regardless of gender, race, orientation, or socioeconomic status- and with us, it’s free.” PrEP, or pre- exposure prophylaxis, is a daily pill that prevents the contraction of HIV. PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, protects those who may have been exposed to HIV with a regiment started within 72 hours of exposure. Both are proven to be in the upper 90th percentile of effectiveness in preventing HIV.
In the development of The Corner, Friends for Life has created a sex-positive, non- judgmental place that is welcoming and shame free. The comfortable gallery setting will host and display the work of minority and LGBTQ+ artists in rotating shows. Retail showcases highlight queer and minority artists who can show their work without paying a commission.
Clients are greeted by receptionists as soon as they walk through the door and escorted to a second reception area where they are offered a hot beverage. They are given a tablet to fill out information electronically or they can let the PrEP/PEP Health Coach complete the information for them later in the appointment. Clients then meet with a PrEP/ PEP Health Coach who will talk to them more about the medication and assist them in determining if PrEP and PEP is the right choice for them. They are then tested for HIV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Syphilis and Hep B and C at no cost. Finally, they meet with the on-site pharmacist who will answer any other questions they may have and prescribe and dispense the medication right then and there. Because The Corner has an onsite pharmacy, clients can choose to pick up their medication there or have it mailed to their home, offering more privacy than a visit to a typical pharmacy. “The whole process takes 45 minutes to an hour,” says Leue. “You walk through our door and an hour later you walk out with pills in hand. We want The Corner to redefine customer service in Public Health.”
The Corner is located at 806 Cooper, at the corner of Elzey, and is open Saturday-Tuesday 12-8PM and Friday 8am – 3pm. PEP is available and the pharmacy is open seven days a week. Appointments are available and walk-ins are welcome.