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Planned Parenthood’s The Drop is an HIV Community Hub

Denver is one of the many major cities nationwide that made a pledge to end AIDS by 2030. By 2016, the city’s public health department reported that Denver was two-thirds of the way to its goal. Programs like the safe needle exchange and a brand new HIV drop-in center, The Drop, are tackling the HIV and AIDS epidemic and helping Denver reach its AIDS-free goal.

The Drop, also known as the PPRM Denver Central Health Center, is the first clinic of its kind. It serves as a hub for a variety of Denver’s communities in search of HIV prevention, treatment, and education.

While any Planned Parenthood location can provide HIV testing and prevention, The Drop provides much more. In addition to free HIV testing for anyone—anyone—who comes in, The Drop offers Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), other sexually transmitted infection prevention, and community resources.

“The Drop is specifically about community,” said Thera Marshall, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ (PPRM) HIV Program Manager. “It was built for and is run by the community as a whole, which is what makes it different than any other Planned Parenthood location. What we wanted to do was lock into Central Denver and build something great here. The Drop is a clinic built for and run by the community as a whole, which is what makes it different than any other Planned Parenthood location.”

According to Marshall, anyone in Denver can reach out to The Drop to find a safe space for clubs and organizations to gather, host meetings, and get educated. The clinic’s main function is to provide HIV resources, but community is directly related to that mission in Marshall’s eyes.

HIV can be transmitted as a result of sexual contact, drug use, and even through breastfeeding. The infection can impact anyone, which is why The Drop has a strong focus on cultural engagement and connecting people.

“HIV isn’t just a gay issue,” Marshall said. “And even if it was, gay issues are community issues. The Drop isn’t a gay space; it isn’t an alternative space; it’s a life space. I want to bridge the gap between communities in Denver.”

Stigma about HIV is still prevalent in society, and many HIV-positive people feel as though there are few safe spaces for them to simply exist among people who understand what they’re going through. The Drop also serves as a safe hangout space where people can socialize, make friends, and take reduce some of the intimidation of getting HIV resources.

“If you come in here to crochet, you’ll probably get a PrEP talk,” Marshall said. “We want to keep that conversation going no matter what you come in for.”

A team of educators from PPRM, who also bring in outside organizations for assistance with PrEP navigation, STI education, and other sexual education resources, keep the conversations going.

Though no facility can meet the needs of everyone out there, Marshall wants to reach out to everyone in Denver.

“The door is open,” Marshall said. “If there is anything out there that the community would like to do or see and doesn’t have the means or space to do so, I would love to be the one to approach. I would like to have a discussion. I want to know what the community needs, and I want to try and help.”

The Drop is located at 921 E. 14th Ave. Ste. A, and is open seven days a week. Reach out by calling 303-813-7794 for facility hours, activity and education information, and health services.