Sunday, September 30, 2007

We ain't in Toto any more, Kansas!

So I worked at the HRC yesterday. The Health Resource Center (HRC) is a clinic in north St. Louis run by the university. I had never been in North STL before, and it's another world north of forest park. There were boarded up houses, groups of idle teens, trashy stores, overall slummy. You couldn't pay me to live there, that's for sure. Scary, but it was also really sad. You could see these formerly nice homes, that had once looked exactly like mine, had completely fallen into disrepair. The clientelle of the clinic was also discouraging. Yesterday we were doing physicals for teens who were in a rehab clinic. They were 14-16 year old boys who were concerned about gettting tested for HIV, chlamydia, ghonorrea, and syphillis. They didn't phrase it that way, they just said "I want to get, you know, tested". For what? I would ask, not really knowing where they were headed with this. Looking aside, they'd just say "you know." Being a clueless naive white middle class kid, I would just note that on the history and report it to the attending. The attending was really cool and had a good rapport with these kids. He had gone to Howard (a traditionally black medical school in DC), or at least had scrubs from there, had dreds down his back and could talk with these kids in a way that I couldn't. For him it was implicit that these guys were concered about STD's. His advice and instructions for these guys were not directives, nothing along the lines of "you need to stop sleeping around before you get HIV", but instead he would tell them that they were young and otherwise healthy, and it would be a shame to ruin that by smoking more or not using condoms. The rate of HIV in the black population of St Louis is something like 4 times the national average, and is among the highest in the nation.

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