An HIV and medical outreach center opened Thursday to provide free medical care to the homeless. The Joshua House, a project of the Los Angeles Mission, will offer free, anonymous HIV testing, comprehensive care for patients who have developed symptoms of AIDS, medical treatment for other illnesses and transitional housing.
The Joshua House is the only permanent facility on Skid Row to provide testing for the homeless, Mission officials said.
"In the homeless population, one in 25 are infected" with the AIDS virus, said Mike Edwards, the executive director of the Los Angeles Mission. He added that in the general population of Los Angeles County, the incidence of infection is closer to one in every 200 people.
"Our function is to offer hope, to get more people to come to us with their problems and give them more freedom to find out [about HIV]," said Michael Morin, 33, an employee of the Mission and former homeless person who found out he was HIV-positive while in the Mission's rehabilitation program.
"I don't know how long I've had it, but I might be dead if I hadn't found out," said Morin, who will be volunteering as a counselor at the Joshua House.
The house will be staffed by mission employees and volunteers, and is run exclusively on donations. Edwards said the facility cost $1.5 million to build and will cost about $225,000 a year to maintain.
The house will be open five days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Edwards said, and is located adjacent to the Los Angeles Mission at 311 Winston Street.