The COVID Crisis: New Sexual Health Services And Resources During The Pandemic

The Health Department today announced citywide home delivery of safer sex products and HIV self-test kits to supplement sexual and reproductive health services currently available in the city. The Health Department’s Chelsea and Fort Greene Sexual Health Clinics are offering limited walk-in services for New Yorkers’ sexual and reproductive health needs, including emergency contraception, HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) for people starting treatment for the first time and HIV, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing for people under 18 years old. New Yorkers can also call the NYC Sexual Health Clinic Hotline for telehealth services.

“We are committed to protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers, and that includes their sexual health,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “As we adapt to living in the time of COVID-19, we must find alternative solutions to maintaining public health support for all New Yorkers.”

“Even during a global pandemic, sex remains an important part of overall health and well-being for many people,” said Dr. Oni Blackstock, Assistant Commissioner for the Health Department’s Bureau of HIV. “As New Yorkers have had to adapt to the realities of the pandemic, so have the Health Department’s service models. Door 2 Door and the Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program will allow New Yorkers to access sexual health services from the comfort and safety of their own homes.”

The Health Department’s NYC Condom Availability Program (NYCAP) launched Door 2 Door, a new service through which New Yorkers living in the five boroughs can order free condoms and other safer sex products for home delivery. Each year, the Health Department distributes an average of 30 million male condoms, internal condoms, and lubricant packs to over 3,500 nonprofit organizations and businesses citywide. Recognizing the limitations of community-based distribution during COVID-19, the Health Department designed Door 2 Door to ensure continued access to these products.

Visit nyc.gov/condoms to access the Door 2 Door order form and select from the full array of ONE® Condoms products: NYC Condoms, including NYC Legend XL and ARTCondomNYC condoms; Extra Strong, Extreme Ribs, Super Sensitive, Super Studs, FlavorWaves and VANISH Hyperthin condoms; and lubricant packs. Products come in multiples of 30 and are delivered in discreetly packaged envelopes. Orders are limited to two products at a time, and one order per individual every 30 days, while supplies last.

New York City-based nonprofits and businesses can still order condoms and safer sex products through the NYC Safer Sex Portal.

“All New Yorkers should be doing everything they can to be healthy during this crisis, and that includes taking care of their sexual and reproductive health. That’s why it’s so important for them to be able to receive safer sex materials and HIV testing at home. I commend Commissioner Barbot and the Department of Health for their steadfast dedication to delivering these new services to keep New Yorkers healthy and safe,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.

“When people need access to condoms, the Health Department is always ready to deliver,” said Davin Wedel, CEO and founder of ONE® Condoms. “I’m inspired by the commitment and creativity of NYCAP staff as they work to ensure continued access to condoms and safer sex products. We’re thrilled to partner with the Door 2 Door program and do our part to help New Yorkers stay safe.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring full access to safer sex products for New Yorkers is key to reducing new HIV and STI infections, with the goal of ending the HIV epidemic,” said Lynnette Ford, Senior Vice President of Programs and Prevention Services, at GMHC. “Our longstanding partnership with the Health Department is especially vital as we face restrictions in our prevention work, including testing. The new Door 2 Door service complements GMHC’s latest initiative to provide at-home HIV testing kits shipped directly to people’s homes. We are grateful to the Health Department for their work to ensure the health and well-being of all New Yorkers.”

Last month, the Health Department launched the Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program to help reduce barriers to HIV testing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants receive online coupon codes from partner organizations to redeem online for a free OraSure OraQuick HIV self-test kit delivered to their home address. The program has partnered with over 50 community-based organizations, community health centers, hospital-based clinics, small businesses, and other settings citywide, with 838 online coupon codes distributed to date. By promoting free HIV self-tests on multiple platforms, including social media, dating and hook-up apps, text messaging, and email, the program continues to reach communities most affected by HIV.

To order a free HIV self-test kit for home delivery, contact one of the Health Department’s Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program partner organizations. Organizations interested in partnering with the Health Department should contact chtgiveaway@health.nyc.gov.

“As I reflect on our current work to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, I am reminded of how far we’ve come in the fight against HIV,” said Stephen Tang, President and Chief Executive Officer of OraSure Technologies. “When it comes to eradicating HIV, the first step is to know your HIV status. We are pleased to work with programs like the Health Department’s Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program which brings free at-home HIV tests to people in the community, so they can get tested and get results in the privacy and safety of their own homes. Our hope is for people to get tested, know their HIV status, and get linked to appropriate care. That’s the key to ending the HIV epidemic.”

“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, NewYork-Presbyterian’s HIV Prevention Program was delivering comprehensive sexual health care to least 250 patients per month, and by the end of March we had moved the majority of our patients to a telehealth model,” said Caroline Carnevale, Nurse Practitioner at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “However, this new process lacked the HIV testing necessary for routine PrEP follow-ups. The Health Department’s Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program has allowed our HIV Prevention Program to quickly and effectively deliver our patients at-home HIV test kits during a time of significant sexual health service limitations citywide. We are so grateful to be included in this important initiative and applaud the Health Department for continuously working to end the HIV epidemic, even amidst a global pandemic.”

FACES NY has been deeply rooted in Harlem since 1985…

“FACES NY has been deeply rooted in Harlem since 1985,” said Hondo Martinez, Program Manager, and Eilene Valarezo, Preventive Navigator, both of FACES NY. “During these unprecedented times, we continue to provide services to New Yorkers most vulnerable to HIV. The Community Home Test Giveaway Virtual Program has provided FACES NY with an invaluable tool critical to accomplishing our goal of ending the epidemic.”

While several of the Health Department’s Sexual Health Clinics have temporarily closed due to COVID-19, the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic in Manhattan and the Fort Greene Sexual Health Clinic in Brooklyn are currently offering limited walk-in services, including emergency contraception, PEP, HIV ART for people starting treatment for the first time, and HIV and STI testing for people under 18 years old. All visitors to the clinics should wear face coverings. Telehealth services are available via the NYC Sexual Health Clinic Hotline at 347-396-7959, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Services are available to anyone 12 years or older, regardless of ability to pay, insurance coverage, or immigration status. No parental consent is necessary.

The Health Department maintains directories of providers currently offering sexual and reproductive health services in the BronxBrooklynManhattanQueens, and Staten Island. The directories list providers and their contact information, whether they are currently accepting walk-in patients, and available services. The Health Department also maintains citywide directories of PlaySure Network partners currently offering services: one for HIV and STI testing, PrEP, PEP, and HIV care, and the other for HIV-related navigation and support services.

The Health Department has released several resources for providers and the public related to sexual health and COVID-19, including:

For information on additional guidance and the latest COVID-19-related data, visit nyc.gov/health/coronavirus.

About Harlem World Magazine

Harlem World Magazine is a lifestyle and brand for anyone who has a Harlem state of mind, dedicated to news, history, the renaissance and stories that celebrate our lifestyle.

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