It's not always easy to get young men to take care of their health care needs but at the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic, innovative programs are drawing them in, including a special event organized in conjunction with Men's Health Month.
"We believe that offering health services and education about healthy lifestyle practices to men can help increase screening and detection of potential health problems, including sexually transmitted infections and HIV. This will benefit young men, their partners, their families and their communities," said Dr. Peggy Smith, director of the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic.
The event will offer free rapid-result HIV testing and screenings for other STIs, as well as general health checks, coupled with a free haircut from Houston barber George Kirkland, who is an "alumnus" of the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic.
It will be held at the Cullen Clinic, 5737 Cullen, Houston, 77030, on Tuesday, June 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Teens and young men up to age 23 can get screened and then get a professional haircut while they wait for their results. Hotdogs and drinks are also available while they wait. No appointments are necessary, and social workers are on hand to talk with the young men about resources and services available to them.
"We want young men to feel comfortable, and this is a relaxed setting where they can feel at home while taking care of an important health care need," said Dr. Ruth Buzi, director of social services at the clinic. "It's our way of celebrating Men's Health Month, which is held every June, while emphasizing the importance of health care."
Young men will have another opportunity later this summer to receive free health screenings at the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic's eighth annual basketball tournament and health fair. It will be held Sept. 21 at the Tejano Center in Houston's southeast side. It is open to men ages 16 to 25.
The event will include HIV, glucose and blood pressure screening and information on employment opportunities and community resources. Participants in the three-on-three basketball tournament must also attend the health fair. For more information or to register, contact Ozie Wilhite, social worker with the Baylor Teen Health Clinic, at 713-440-7456.
In addition to screening and treating HIV and sexually transmitted infections, services for males at the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic include complete physical exams, sports physicals, routine health care, referrals to community resources and education on a variety of health topics.
The Baylor Teen Health Clinic also collaborates with the Texas Attorney General's Office to offer a program called Project Bootstrap, which offers young fathers ages 15 to 25 a stipend to support their education, job training and employment search.
It was this program that allowed barber George Kirkland to land on his feet after having a child at a young age. He's now happy to give back to the Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic by offering haircuts to new and potential patients at the clinic.
The Baylor College of Medicine Teen Health Clinic provides health care to uninsured and underinsured teen and adolescents at eight locations throughout Houston. For more information visit their website at www.teenhealthclinic.org.