Friday, March 25, 2011

The Missing Link? HIV/AIDS and Anacostia

Something is missing at the Max Robinson Center. I stopped by the center on MLK Jr. Ave to learn about all the options for someone seeking HIV/AIDS testing, treatment and information. The center is a few blocks from the Anacostia metro, extremely accessible, and the staff are helpful. But still, something is missing. Where is the compassion, care and connection to the community?

The center just feels like a disconnected grey structure and doesn't offer a passionate link to the everyday lives of people in Anacostia who are at risk for HIV infection. I asked about programming and outreach to which a representative said they had none, that is not their role. HIV/AIDS testing centers don't seem to prevent the ever-increasing prison population or the in-home dysfunction that breeds risky sexual behavior.

The center is funded through Whitman Walker and is a valuable asset to Anacostia, but also a grim reminder of the state of health in Ward 8, which had the most people diagnosed with HIV in 2007.

Due to the nature of their services, maybe the Max Robinson Center shouldn't be a social watering hole. Still, I sense that there is a missing intervention that digs deep at the roots of HIV in Anacostia. Pain, prisons, and trauma can't be solved with a pamphlet, free condoms and a mouth swab. Beyond the rhetoric of safer sex, how can we create a healthier way to exist in Anacostia? How do we peel back the layers of poverty, dust off the dirt of trauma and cleanse the pain of perceived destitution?

The Max Robinson Center is an important part of Anacostia's identity and offers valuable services ranging from Trauma Counseling to Stress Reduction. But we, as a community, must also present a shift in how residents view their ability to live in a healthier, cleaner, and more uplifting neighborhood.

The Max Robinson Center (Whitman Walker Clinic)
HIV/AIDS Testing, Mental Heath Screening
2303 MLK Jr. Avenue
Contact: James Johnson


LittleTortilla stays in DC said...

I know people who attend the day program at Max and others who volunteer there. The program allows them connections to services, counseling and a community. They really take care of one another. I am not sure who you spoke with but don't let one encounter color your entire perception of an organization.


AnacostiaYogi said...

Thanks, a balanced insider perspective is needed. Based on my visit, I can't imagine how many other people walked away with the same impression. My expectations may speak to the customer/client culture within privatized vs public health care.