Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida (LSS) and CAN Community Health are hosting the grand opening of a new HIV/AIDS clinic on Thursday. This is the only of its kind on Jacksonville’s Southside.

Mary Strickland, President and CEO of LSS, says the clinic, located at 4615 Philips Hwy, was created out of space that previously held their thrift store.

Before the CAN Community Health Clinic at Lutheran Social Services, Strickland says many of the individuals served by LSS didn’t have convenient access to crucial HIV/AIDS care.

These individuals were reportedly traveling, many by public transportation, to multiple locations across town in order to stay up on their appointments. Now, individuals have a one-stop shop for everything they need, including case management, medical, lab, dental and pharmacy.

Heather Vaughn, director of human services for LSS, says the prevalence of HIV in the community may be higher than most think. Vaughn says roughly 7,200 HIV-positive individuals live in NE Florida. Vaughn also says one in seven people live with HIV in the U.S. and don’t know they are positive. Vaughn says about 300 individuals get diagnosed in our city every year.

"Stigma is real in HIV, so people don't come out and get tested," Vaughn said. "This is a conversation that everyone should be having. You should talk with your partners about it, your children about it, talk about it in church, let everyone know that HIV is real, it is a pandemic in our country."

The ribbon cutting for the new clinic will be Thursday at 11 a.m.