Budget cuts force Memphis center to stop offering HIV tests - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Budget cuts force center to stop offering HIV tests

Cuts to the Planned Parenthood budget mean the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center must suspend Wednesday night STD testing. Cuts to the Planned Parenthood budget mean the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center must suspend Wednesday night STD testing.

(WMC-TV) – Every Wednesday for more than three years Planned Parenthood has offered STD testing at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, but now they're turning people away.

Cuts to the Planned Parenthood budget mean the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center must suspend Wednesday night STD testing.

"There are high infection rates in a lot of demographics in this city," said Will Batts, MGLCC executive director. "We need more testing in this city so people find out if they're positive or not so they can get into care."

Batts received the call Wednesday that weekly HIV and syphilis testing sessions are in limbo indefinitely, because Planned Parenthood ran out of kits.

"A lot of people that come to the center are uncomfortable going other places to get tested," he said.

Batts fears more people with STDs will now circulate in the community undetected.

He said heterosexuals also take advantage of the center's evening hours.

"It's one of the few places in Memphis you can get tested after hours," said Batts.

Since 2009, Planned Parenthood has tested 507 people for STDs at MGLCC.

Barry Chase, Memphis Regional Planned Parenthood president, blames Governor Haslam for the cuts.

"As part of his platform, the governor said, 'I will defund Planned Parenthood,'" Chase said.

He also believes that Shelby County leaders were following the governor's lead when they decided to grant Planned Parenthood's longtime family planning services to Christ Community Health Services.

Some feel Planned Parenthood was targeted because their services include abortions.

"We have politicians who seem much more interested in serving their political base than serving the people of Shelby County," Chase said.

Batts said it's unclear when the center will resume STD testing.

"We have to get approval to do the testing on our own, even to buy the test," he said.

State approval allowing the MGLCC to offer its own syphilis and HIV tests could take months or years, according to Batts.

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