El Centro/The Hub opens today, Jan. 5, in Lakeview—why it matters

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Tony Christon-Walker and other men at El Centro/The Hub
Tony Christon-Walker and others who will be bringing heath and community to people at El Centro/The Hub. Photo via AIDS Alabama

El Centro/The Hub is a new AIDS Alabama PrEP clinic and community center for the LGBTQ community, people of color, people living with HIV/AIDS and anyone else who would like to come in. It opens today, January 5, at 10AM in Lakeview. Keep reading to find out what they offer, why it matters and how you can support them

The basics

front view of El Centro/The Hub
Colorful, warm and inviting on the inside, this building will provide a welcome home and much-needed medical services. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

What’s opening: El Centro/The Hub
When: January 5, 2021, 10AM

Where you’ll find it

Who it’s for

Members of the Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition
Members of the Alabama Latino AIDS Coalition, which will have a new home at El Centro/The Hub (photo taken before COVID). Photo via ALAC

El Centro/The Hub is originally designed for Black and brown LGBTQ people and for people living with HIV/AIDS. And, it’s open to anyone and everyone who wants to come in, no matter their identity, orientation, HIV status, racial or ethnic background. 

Want to support this game-changing work in our community? Donate to AIDS Alabama today and select Prevention as your designation.

What you’ll find there

Medical services: 

  • Testing, including HIV, STIs + COVID. 
  • PrEP/PEP clinic, providing a 96% effective once-a-day pill to treat and prevent HIV.
  • Expanded services for Latinx and transgender individuals, with a goal of having more trans and Latinx people on staff.
  • Services, including translation services for appointments, for Latinx people living with HIV/AIDS.

Community building services:  

grill in future downstairs community space at El Centro/The Hub
Imagine this grill outside on a beautiful post-COVID day, and a rousing community event gathering people together at El Centro/The Hub. Photo via AIDS Alabama
  • The bottom level will be community-focused with a dance center, game room, workout station, weight room and yoga studio. The shower is the crown jewel of the space and makes a huge difference to people who don’t have an easy way to get clean.
  • Opportunities to socialize and learn. There will be classes in Spanish (with English interpretation as needed). These will include art, cooking, English and mental health and wellness, once the pandemic allows. 
  • Support for LGBTQ Latinx individuals who need help learning how to navigate access to care and other supportive services in Alabama.
  • Latinx community events like Dia de los Muertos or Las Posadas.

Why it matters

community health table before COVID, El Centro/The Hub
Tabling with health info back before COVID. Photo via AIDS Alabama

Having people of color and trans individuals provide testing and outreach to other people of color and trans individuals helps reach more people in those communities. This is especially important since 2020 showed how these communities are disproportionately affected by COVID

With the new building, someone can come in for one reason and decide to get tested. While they are there, they might learn about an event that’s happening tomorrow. From there, they begin to build valuable connections to services, to fun, and to the community. 

“The idea is to have a place where people can hang out, eat food, sit with other people going through the same experiences. We want El Centro to be the kind of homelike place where people can come and bring their partner or family and have events to come to once the pandemic allows.”

Jean Hernandez, Latinx Outreach Coordinator, AIDS Alabama

Who’s behind it

A host of people at AIDS Alabama, including Tony Christon-Walker, Director of Prevention and Community Partnerships, Jean Hernandez, Latinx Outreach Coordinator and Alex Bautista, Latinx LGBTQ Coordinator at AIDS Alabama.

How much does it cost

All services offered at El Centro / The Hub are completely free to the community, even if you don’t have health insurance.

How to access services

Show up any time between 10AM-5PM M-F, by appointment on the weekends (call one of the numbers above to make an appointment). 

El Centro / The Hub logo

“The big thing is that we’re available and opening El Centro / The Hub. Since the start of the pandemic, we managed in a smaller building and didn’t close our doors. I’m so proud of the 10 wonderful spirits who work for me. Not one of them was like ‘I can’t work / I can’t do this.’ They knew how to protect themselves, knew we had a job to do and did it.”

Tony Christon-Walker, Director of Prevention and Community Partnerships, AIDS Alabama

Want to support this work?  Donate to AIDS Alabama today, and select Prevention as your designation.

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Sharron Swain
Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference
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