COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus Public Health is expanding sexual health resources as rates of sexually transmitted diseases are increasing in Ohio.
A new sexual health and wellness clinic has opened within Columbus Public Health at 240 Parsons Ave. to offer additional services to the central Ohio community. CPH Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts said the purpose of the clinic is to provide affordable, convenient, and individualized care.
“Here in our community, we have very high rates of sexually transmitted infections, particularly syphilis, and anyone can get syphilis no matter what your sexual orientation is and whether you have intercourse or whether you have oral sex,” Roberts said. “We want to teach individuals how they can have sex safely so they can prevent themselves from getting infections.”
Syphilis cases in Ohio increased 82% between 2016 and 2021 to more than 2,900 cases, according to data from the Ohio Department of Health.
To combat these rising rates, the clinic offers comprehensive sexual health services, including STI testing and treatment, medications to prevent HIV, and reproductive health counseling. In addition, preconception health and pregnancy testing, diabetes and cholesterol screenings, emergency contraception, and smoking cessation services are available.
In 2020, about 80% of syphilis cases in Ohio occurred among men, with national data showing the disease is most prevalent among men who have sex with men. Roberts said CPH staff is trained to welcome patients of all sexual orientations.
“We wanted to make sure that we were available to everyone from all walks of life and all different sexual orientations,” Roberts said. “No matter how you identify yourself, we want to make sure that you get the right care that you need.”
CPH also encourages teens and young adults to take advantage of the clinic. An estimated 55% of male and female teens have had sex by age 18, according to data from the CDC. Roberts said the clinic has made its services accessible by offering evening hours for patients in school.
“Youth today are inquisitive, and they’re exploring and we want them to be safe,” Roberts said. “We can see people of all ages, and so you don’t necessarily have to have your parents with you if you want to come in and talk to us about your sexual health.”
Roberts said the clinic accepts walk-ins and appointments and does not refuse any patient for inability to pay. Patients can visit the clinic for an exhaustive check-up or request specific testing, like a diabetes screening or a family planning service.
The clinic is open 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, and 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Medicaid, Medicare, CareSource, UnitedHealthcare, Molina Healthcare, and Anthem insurance cards are accepted, along with cash, Visa, MasterCard, and Discover.