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SFAF cancels some services at Magnet; Castro sober space remains shuttered

News Editor

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Magnet sexual health center at Strut in the Castro has canceled some services due to supply-chain issues. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Magnet sexual health center at Strut in the Castro has canceled some services due to supply-chain issues. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Two nonprofits serving the LGBTQ community have announced they are canceling services or remaining temporarily closed due to the Omicron COVID variant.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Magnet sexual health center will cancel services beginning Saturday, January 15. According to a Facebook post, the center, located at SFAF's Strut building at 470 Castro Street, does not have adequate supplies.

"Due to COVID-19 surge-related supply chain issues, we do not have sufficient laboratory supplies to meet the current demand for routine services," SFAF stated.

"Starting on January 15, 2022, we will be postponing most PrEP follow-up and routine sexual health appointments at Magnet for the rest of the month," the agency added. "We will ensure there are no gaps in access to PrEP during this time and will update our website when these services can resume at full capacity."

The following services are impacted:

PrEP follow-up appointments: Most PrEP follow-up appointments for current PrEP clients have been postponed for the month of January 2022.

Routine STI and HIV testing: Magnet is not able to do any routine HIV or STI testing for the month of January. Magnet Express walk-in services will not be available.

Magnet will continue to provide the following services: PrEP appointments for new PrEP clients; STI testing/treatment if you have symptoms or if you are a contact of someone who has been diagnosed with an STI; interim HIV treatment; emergency PEP (for HIV exposures); and Trans Care services.

SFAF stated that people seeking asymptomatic STI/HIV testing may access services at their primary care provider, City Clinic (628-217-6600), and Planned Parenthood (415-821-1282) in the meantime.

For more information, click here.

Castro Country Club remains closed
The Castro Country Club, a clean and sober space in the heart of the LGBTQ neighborhood, had previously announced it was temporarily closing, as the Bay Area Reporter reported earlier this month.

The club, located at 4058 18th Street, had been expected to reopen January 15. But in an email to supporters, Executive Director Billy Lemon, a gay man, said the space would remain shuttered for most of the month.

"The Castro Country Club will remain closed for 14 days starting today January 14," Lemon wrote. "We have been watching the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to rise as the availability of adequate testing remains scarce.

"In our continued effort to keep our volunteers and the community safe, especially those with compromised immune systems, this continuing pause in service is required," he added.

Meetings will also continue on pause till at least January 28, the email stated.

For more information on the Castro Country Club, click here.

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health's COVID tracker, the city's rolling seven-day average is 1,630 new COVID cases per day, as of January 6. As of January 9, the city reported 202 new cases, down from 597 January 8.

In other parts of the Bay Area, there may be signs the Omicron surge has peaked. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that in Santa Clara County, sewage tracking has revealed that the levels of virus peaked around January 6 and have fallen since then.

On the other hand, Bay Area hospitals are preparing for a surge of patients, the paper reported.

Public health officials have urged residents throughout the region to get vaccinated or boosted. Additionally, they recommend people wear N95 or KN95 face masks, which offer a tighter fit and better protection than surgical or cloth masks.

After a brief holiday pause, the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District has resumed its COVID Testing & Vaccination Clinic every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the parking lot behind Walgreens at Castro and 18th streets. It is free and requires no appointments.

More information about what to do if you test positive can be found here.

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