THE BERKELEY FREE CLINIC was founded in 1969 as a "street medicine" clinic that quickly found a niche and a permanent home in the Berkeley community. During its 28 years providing free services to countless thousands of Bay Area residents, the Berkeley Free Clinic has lived up to it's motto: "Health for People, Not Profit." Since it's inception, the Free Clinic has operated as a volunteer collective, enabling it to offer an unmatched level of services relative to its low overhead and administrative costs. The clinic collective is composed of seven volunteer sections, administered by coordinators, who are appointed for a fixed term at a nominal salary. All collective members, both paid and unpaid, must work regular volunteer shifts to maintain their membership in the collective. This structure has helped the clinic to adapt to changing funding patterns with a flexible organizational capacity, allowing it to offer the most innovative and effective HIV prevention services in Berkeley.
The newest section in the clinic is the HIV Prevention Services (HPS) Collective which was formed in September 1995. Since 1989, the Gay Men's Health Collective (GMHC) had hosted an Anonymous Test Site (ATS) in collaboration with the Pacific Center and the City of Berkeley since 1989. In September 1996, the HPS officially took on sole responsibility for administrating the ATS contract. Since then, it has grown and become the largest Anonymous HIV Test Site in Berkeley with a staff of over 35 certified test counselors. Each Sunday, approximately 100 clients are provided client-centered HIV prevention education and referrals by an average of 12 volunteer test counselors and waiting room educators.
The HPS is currently expanding its street outreach services as well. We have hired two new outreach coordinators to manage the Queer Outreach Team which provides street outreach on Telegraph as well as at Berkeley High School, UC Berkeley, the Berkeley BART Stations and staff the weekly excursions to Gilman Street, Aquatic Park, and UC Theater's Rocky Horror Picture Show. Volunteers from the HPS and GMHC have also provided free HIV and STD testing and counseling at two sites in Solano County and at Berkeley's Steam Works since 1988. On World AIDS Day, the HPS and the GMHC provided round the clock HIV and STD testing to nearly 150 clients.
Six other volunteer sections provide HIV/STD prevention education and referrals in addition to their primary areas of expertise. The Gay Men's Health Collective offers a men's STD testing and treatment clinic on Sunday nights alongside the HPS Anonymous Test Site. The Switchboard Section provides information and referrals seven days a week by phone or during afternoon drop-in hours. The Medical and Laboratory Sections offer a primary care medical clinic each week night with services provided entirely by lay community health workers trained at the clinic. The GYN subsection of the medical section also provides a Saturday morning clinic for women's STDs. The Dental Section is one the two providers of free dental care in California. The Peer Counseling Collective operates a drop-in clinic and on-going individual counseling on week-nights.
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