Baylor College of Medicine operates eight clinics for teenagers, scattered across Houston.
They offer young women and men services related to sex and pregnancy, but it’s admittedly harder to reach the young men at times.
Timothy Reeves is a medical social worker.
He spends a lot of time on social media websites, trying to get young men to come in and get tested for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections like syphilis.
“The majority of our clients are females. So we’re missing a large population out there – half the population. And if we don’t treat the males, and find a way to make some feel more at ease, more relaxed when they come to the clinic, then we’re not really doing our job.”
Syphilis is on the rise in Houston, and HIV infection continues to be a problem, especially among African-American men.
At the teen clinic in Houston’s Third Ward, the social workers created a special offer for June. It’s a sort of guy-friendly man cave and spa package.
It includes a free haircut, lunch, and movies to watch while waiting for test results.
“We just kind of tried to be creative, and coming up with things to get guys to participate.”
Ozie Wilhite is another social worker at the clinic. He focuses on outreach to young men.
“Because guys do not take advantage of healthcare.”
Dominque Andrews came in for the haircut, bringing along his young family.
He’s 23, and part of Project Bootstrap, an educational and employment program for young fathers.
Getting a regular HIV test is a condition for being in the program.
But he says most guys his age think they’re invincible.
“Kids my age not coming or younger than me not coming because they feel they’re grown and they don’t feel nobody need to tell them nothing. I don’t like going to the doctor alone, because I don’t like check-ups. I don’t like none of that. I don’t like the doctor period. But there are things I just do to make sure I’m good. Because if I’m not good that means something mostly likely is going to be wrong with my daughter and I can’t have that one.”
The outreach effort will be offered again from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Tuesday, June 25 at the Cullen clinic, located at 5737 Cullen Boulevard, Houston, TX 77021.*
*Free haircuts and lunch will be offered only from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.