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Portland's first LGBTQ primary care clinic to open in 2017

Cascade AIDS Project to focus on healthcare to sexual minorities

COURTESY PHOTO: CASCADE AIDS PROJECT - An architectural rendering of Cascade AIDS Project's new clinic serving LGBTQ patients in the Buckman neighborhood, opening next year.The Cascade AIDS Project, a 31-year-old Portland organization, plans to open a new 8,500-square-foot primary care clinic focused on LGBTQ patients. The clinic appears to be the first of its kind in the city.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people are at higher risk for certain medical issues, from mental health to tobacco use, in addition to sexually transmitted diseases. Gay and bisexual males account for 64 percent of Oregon’s HIV cases and 63 percent of new cases.

“They have the same health issues as the general population, but they have additional issues we need to address,” says Peter Parisot, director of Development & Communications for the Cascade AIDS Project (CAP).

Parisot says the idea for a standalone clinic catering to the needs of Portland’s large and growing LGBTQ community first came about after the Affordable Care Act and other forces made funding for CAP’s wrap-around services for sexually transmitted diseases unstable.

Strategic planning to determine where the organization should focus its efforts began three years ago with the nonprofit ultimately deciding to focus on what it felt best at: providing medical care to sexual minorities.

“There are a lot of studies that show that because of some of the interaction with health providers, LGBT patients can be less likely to talk about health issues,” Parisot says, citing statistics on higher risks among the LGBTQ population.

Despite its name — Cascade AIDS Project — and the focus on sexual minorities, the clinic will cover a range of health problems, not just sexual issues.

“As an LGBT person, you’ve got the flu, you want to go to a place that is culturally sensitive to your needs, where everything is welcoming and affirming,” Parisot says.

The clinic will accept private health insurance as well as Medicaid and Medicare.

Patients are not required to be LGBTQ, but the clinic — from doctors to billing staff — will be aware and sensitive to their unique needs, Parisot says.

The clinic will focus on primary care and as such will not offer surgeries of any type, including the transition surgeries transgender people might want to change their bodies. But the clinic will be aware of those issues and willing to assist with hormone therapies and referrals, Perisot says.

The yet-unnamed clinic will open at 2236 SE Belmont Street in early 2017 after a half-million-dollar renovation project. It aims to eventually serve 3,000 to 4,000 patients, with a conservative goal of serving 1,000 patients by 2020.

Shasta Kearns Moore
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