Iris House, an organization that is dedicated to helping test people for HIV and AIDS, opened is first location in the borough amid fanfare.
The Iris House South Bronx Outreach Center, located at 756 E. 175 Street between Prospect and Crotona avenues officially opened shop with a ribbon cutting on Monday, September 26.
The new location will help Iris House better serve more than 400 clients in the Crotona community surrounding the clinic, and also to conduct outreach to prevent the spread of HIV and help those who are already positive. Iris House operates two locations in Harlem, said Iris House executive director Ingrid Floyd.
“We were going through the process of figuring out if we should have a physical location in the borough of the Bronx,” Floyd said. “We obtained a new contract and many of the people we are serving are in a three to four block radius, so it became an ideal location for us.”
Representatives were sent to the ceremony from the Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office and the city Department of Health.
By the end of the first year, the clinic could be serving up to 1,000 clients at the location, Floyd said.
The event doubled as the launch of a new ad campaign that will hit bus shelters, as well as barber shops and beauty salons, called “Love Your Life, Keep it 100,” which is aimed at preventing HIV infection of heterosexual men between the ages of 18 and 24.
“Poverty and compliancy are the biggest obstacles in preventing HIV infection because they don’t believe that it could happen to them,” said Dr. Theresa Mack, chairwoman of the Iris House board of directors. “HIV is not respective of persons, and it doesn’t matter if you are gay or straight or young or old, if you are having unprotected sex you are at risk.”
Anywhere from a quarter to a half of the people who are HIV infected don’t know that they are infected, Mack stated.
The center’s location, which is about a block away from Crotona Park, is also ideal because many young men congregate in the park and it is a great place to conduct outreach, Floyd said.
“The biggest challenge is to get community support for this matter, which is of great significance to communities of color in New York City,” said Iris House board member Tyrha Lindsey. “We are 30 years into AIDS, and people are becoming complacent, which is not good for our communities where young men are seeing their risk of infection rise.”