By Justin Lofton
Eliminating barriers to safe space and access to self-care is the mission of a collaborative effort called My House, a comprehensive one-stop shop for gay and bisexual men impacted and affected by HIV/AIDS in Nashville.
It is a comfy space that looks like your home away from home, except with a spin. My House is a CDC-funded project that was envisioned by Nashville CARES, Street Works and Neighborhood Health, and has done an outstanding job of utilizing innovative approaches to prioritize a community that has been disproportionately impacted by the virus since the early ’80s.
My House is a Joint Commission Patient-Centered Medical Home operated by Neighborhood Health based in Nashville. Its mission is to increase access to care, reduce new HIV infections, and optimize health outcomes for men who have sex with men living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS throughout Middle Tennessee.
It offers primary care services including chronic disease management for conditions such as hypertension, asthma and diabetes. The clinic also provides preventative care services such as anal/vaginal pap smears, immunizations, age-appropriate screenings and sexually transmitted infection testing.
The birth of My House comes at a very important time where vulnerable communities lack critical prevention resources to stop the spread of HIV.
In February 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that 1 in 2 African American, 1 in 4 Latino, and 1 in 11 caucasian men who have sex with men will become infected with HIV.
My House is equipping these at-risk young men with essential resources such as testing, education, care navigation, counseling, essential support services and a very important prevention tool called PrEP, the once-daily pill that can prevent HIV infection.
As one of the leading PrEP providers in Tennessee, My House has enrolled within the last year more than 150 young men who have sex with men in PrEP navigation and prescription assistance services.
According to the 2015 National HIV/AIDS Strategy, PrEP is a critical prevention tool that — if used effectively — can reduce the transmission of HIV significantly. My House uses a number of outreach strategies such as hook-up applications, bars/clubs, program collaborations and community events to reach the community and educate them about PrEP.
Additionally, My House takes HIV prevention further by implementing programs like Mpowement and Many Men Many Voices (3MV). These high-impact prevention programs are offered for men of color. These two programs seek to build a strong, young gay/bisexual men’s community by using interactive group-style sessions that allow participants to dispel myths about HIV and HIV stigma. Participants engage in a three-day weekend retreat where they discuss cultural, social and religious norms, risk factors and social and psychological influences that racism and homophobia have on risk behaviors.
My House is not just another AIDS service organization. It offers a supportive environment — a hangout spot — where gay and bisexual men can engage in weekly activities such as movie nights, game nights or educational programs. Or, they can simply come during lunch break or do homework.
It is truly a “for us by us” program that gives priority to a community.
My House wants all gay and bisexual men — and especially those of color — to know that it values your lives holistically. It is here to serve you regardless of your religion, race or gender pronouns.
My House hopes to become an oasis of hope and inspiration that the community can have pride in, touching the lives of young men across Middle Tennessee.
MORE ABOUT MY HOUSE
My House is located at 442 Metroplex Drive, Building D, Suite 100 in Nashville near the corner of Antioch Pike and Harding Place. The drop-in center and clinic are located in upper suites 100 and 200 respectively. The clinic is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The community drop-in center is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, click this link.