TeleKind offers HIV prevention and care regardless of HIV status
AUSTIN, Texas—Texas Health Action’s TeleKind—a free tele-sexual health service that provides access to high quality HIV prevention and care without judgment or stigma—is celebrating World AIDS Day on December 1, and empowering Texans to take charge of their personal health and know their HIV status. TeleKind provides a “status neutral” approach to care, allowing any Texas resident 18 years and older to start PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) if HIV negative, or start HIV medical care after a reactive HIV test.
“TeleKind is proud to offer a status-neutral approach to care, which means we are able to provide people with sexual health services, whether living with HIV or not,” Christopher Hamilton, chief executive officer of Texas Health Action, said. “This approach puts the patient’s needs above HIV status to improve care and eliminate stigma.”
Texas Health Action, a community-informed nonprofit, launched TeleKind in 2021 to expand access to HIV prevention and care in rural areas. Texas residents have access to free virtual services through TeleKind with optional at-home testing and prescription delivery.
According to the Texas State Office of Rural Health, 75% of counties in Texas are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas and/or Medically Underserved Areas. This includes 64 counties without a hospital and 25 counties without a primary care physician. Only 15-20% of all jobs in rural Texas communities are in a health care field.
“We know that patients who do not have access to a primary care physician are less likely to receive preventative care and have poorer health outcomes,” Dr. Sandra Guerra, chief medical officer of Texas Health Action, said. “Among the patients who do have a primary care physician, many are uncomfortable discussing their sexual health with their physician and fear being judged. This is why telehealth has become such a valuable tool. It allows patients to be discrete and discuss their sexual health in the comfort of their home.”
TeleKind’s virtual appointments are made possible through secure, two-way video with a health care provider. Patients are also assigned a personal care navigator to help guide them through the appointment process, care plans, and prescription ordering, to help ensure medications are at little to no cost to the patient, with direct-to-patient prescription delivery. All clinical care services and labs are free. For more information about TeleKind, visit mytelekind.org, or for more information about Texas Health Action and its programs, visit texashealthaction.org.