Howard is a life-long Brooklynite and young bright senior in high school. When he became involved in a romantic relationship, he knew it was time to learn more about his sexual health. He hesitated to see a doctor, and was confused, curious, and a little bit embarrassed. He wanted more applicable knowledge while feeling uncomfortable about openly talking about topics like sex, birth control, and STIs.
So Howard turned to where many teens do: the internet.
“I had never seen a doctor because of an uncomfortable feeling I had. I searched online for information but only found myself in a fog. The Internet is flooded with ambiguous and misleading information. I couldn’t find reliable information,” remembered Howard in frustration.
Fortunately, one of Howard’s school counselors directed him to PHS’ teen-friendly Sexual and Reproductive Health Center near his school.
“I went right away,” says Howard.
Public Health Solutions (PHS) manages two sexual and reproductive health centers (formerly known as MIC Women’s Health Services) located in Fort Greene and Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. These centers offer a complete range of services, including birth control, Plan B (morning after pill), men’s sexual healthcare, teens’ sexual healthcare, STI testing and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, free walk-in pregnancy testing, gynecological exams, prenatal care, mental health services, and health education.
The NYC DOHMH has deemed our sexual and reproductive health centers as ‘teen friendly’, and has chosen both our sites to take part in the New York City Teens Connection program. Through this program, we are partnered as referral clinics for numerous local high schools, like the one Howard attends. We are featured in the Teens in NYC Pocket Guide, and give tours and same-day appointments to students from participating schools.
“The health center provides me with all that I’m looking for – friendly in-person counseling, comprehensive health education, and easy access to healthcare services.”
Howard feels enormously grateful for the educational and healthcare services that PHS’ reproductive health center provided him. He attributes most of his sexual health knowledge to Jason, our male service coordinator.
“Jason helped me a lot through his one-on-one sexual health counselling at my school. He understands our concerns and knows how to communicate in our words. My biggest takeaway from Jason’s class is to step out of my comfort zone. He told me that there’s nothing embarrassing because our reproductive system is just the same as our ears, eyes, feet, and other body parts. I’m really honored to be a student of his and would like to spread his ideas in the future.”
Our high-quality reproductive services available at our health centers has played a role in the downward trend of unplanned births and unintended pregnancy in New York.
In fact, both Fort Greene and Eastern Parkway Centers were recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Level-III Patient-Centered Specialty Practice—the highest level of recognition. Each year, we serve over 4,000 women, men, and adolescents.
“I used to go there regularly once or twice a week to keep myself informed and get tested. Gradually, I become less reserved. The more I get to know about sexual health, the more I become serious and proactive.”
Now that Howard is a regular at accessing sexual health services, he has a few important messages for other men. When asked what tips he has for men’s health, here is what he has to say:
“Men shouldn’t just sit in the back and wait for others to come to them. We need to take responsibilities and actively take part in sexual decision-making to build a healthy relationship. Except for a proactive attitude, consuming comprehensive knowledge of sexual and reproductive health is really important. You should be able to know what’s going on about your own overall wellness.
“Don’t be lazy, be sure to schedule regular checkups and get yourself informed. STI testing, HIV testing, male reproductive health exams… making an appointment is just easy. For contraception use, there are various contraception methods like contraceptive pills and condom protection. Talk with your healthcare provider to choose the best.”
Howard takes pride in himself as proactive, well-informed, and fully-responsible concerning sexual and reproductive health. He feels equipped to lead a bright and healthy life.
“I really appreciate the health center and Jason’s efforts in helping me step out of my comfort zone. I would definitely recommend to others who have the same concerns.”
Teens need access to positive role models who have accurate information about how they can protect themselves from STIs and prevent unintended pregnancy. Our health educators are important resource in the community and act as needed confidants for the teens who may not have else to turn to with sexual health questions. With your support, we can expand our services by hiring more health educators who can impact underserved communities. Your unrestricted contribution supports our work in helping vulnerable families and communities in New York City to thrive.