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'Their health care matters': Peoria HIV clinic expands to help serve LGBTQ patients

Journal Star logo Journal Star 7/5/2022 Leslie Renken, Journal Star
Positive Health Solutions, a clinic serving the needs of the LGBTQ community, is located in downtown Peoria at 222 NE Monroe. © JOURNAL STAR/LESLIE RENKEN Positive Health Solutions, a clinic serving the needs of the LGBTQ community, is located in downtown Peoria at 222 NE Monroe.

PEORIA – A clinic originally founded to serve HIV patients has expanded to provide primary care for the LGBTQ population. 

Located at 222 NE Monroe, suite 901 and 904, in downtown Peoria, and at a satellite location in Bloomington, Positive Health Solutions is run by the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria. In addition to primary care, they also provide gender-affirming care and continue to treat HIV patients. 

“A total of 8% of the adult population in the United States identifies as lesbian, gay, transgender or bisexual. And considering the Peoria/Bloomington and surrounding counties in central Illinois, that translates to approximately 50,000 people, and their health care matters," said Lisa Roeder, director of Positive Health Solutions.

“Disparities experienced by the LGBT community puts them an increased risk of health threats. We're pleased that our LGBTQ primary care clinic will be able to address the needs of LGBTQ [people] who are two to three times more likely to face depression, struggle with their identity and can't find providers willing to serve them.” 

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The clinic will also provide training opportunities for medical students and physicians in an area of care where more physicians are needed, said Dr. Teresa Lynch, Chair of Internal Medicine at UICOMP. Residents, resident physicians and fellows from a variety of disciplines rotate through the program, which provides them exposure to diversity, equity and inclusion in patient care, said Lynch

“It is important to get exposure to that, and it’s not always easy to get the opportunity,” she said. 

Because, for many years, HIV-positive patients faced so much stigma, the clinic  operated quietly – but now that's changing, said Roeder. 

“We protected the privacy of patients who were HIV-positive. If they needed our services, they knew of us, and now, we really are going in the opposite direction and are trying to be more inclusive of a lot of different communities and a lot of different patients,” she said. 

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Patients who may have avoided the doctor’s office for fear of feeling uncomfortable or not getting the care they needed now have a place to go, said Lynch. 

“I have a friend whose eldest child is trans, and she said that, for years, she researched where he might go to get care. And now she’s so excited that, when she looks for things in the community, she has started to find places he can go,” said Lynch. “Two to three years ago, that wasn’t the case. And that’s what we want. If people are trans, or however they identify, and they are looking to find a doctor on the web, Positive Health Solutions pops up.” 

Leslie Renken can be reached at (309) 370-5087 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken. 

This article originally appeared on Journal Star: 'Their health care matters': Peoria HIV clinic expands to help serve LGBTQ patients

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