ENGLEWOOD — Sexually transmitted diseases are on the decline in Englewood, and new funding will help a Planned Parenthood of Illinois clinic in the neighborhood expand its services and offer free HIV screenings.
"We try to offer services where there is a need for it and Englewood has demonstrated a need for this kind of testing," said Kai Tao, vice president of clinical operations for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.
HIV screenings previously cost $30 at the Englewood clinic, 6059 S. Ashland Ave., which has been trying to curb instances of gonorrhea and chlamydia in the community by securing grants that allow them to distribute free condoms and free STD medications.
Last year, the clinic distributed more than 37,000 condoms, said spokeswoman Lara Phillips.
"We know condoms are expensive so we secured enough grant funding to give away free condoms this year," Tao said.
The city's Department of Public Health clinic, 641 W. 63rd St., also offers free condoms, STD testing and medication for gonorrhea and chlamydia — for the person infected and their partners.
"It's called Expedited Partner Therapy and it allows someone to receive additional medication for up to three sex partners who may be infected, too," Tao said. "In cases of gonorrhea, we ask that partners come in to be examined because that disease is best treated with an injection rather than pills."
Since 2011, STD cases reported to the city's health clinic in Englewood have slowly dropped, according to Brian Richardson, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health.
Still, Tao said more health clinics are needed.
"No matter how many people we try to see at the clinic sometimes there are more bodies than testing kits," Tao said.
Hours of operation at the Englewood clinic are 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. And while walk-ins are accepted, Tao said it's best to call 800-230-PLAN and make an appointment.
"Otherwise you could be waiting all day before you are seen," she said.
Free screenings are also available at Planned Parenthood health clinics in the Roseland and Austin communities.