Access to PrEP expanded across the Lone Star State thanks to a partnership between Texas Health Action and the online telemedicine company MISTR, which also operates SISTR. This means that Texans who want to access pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV may do so without visiting a doctor’s office.
PrEP refers to the daily tablet HIV-negative people can take to protect themselves against the virus. Scientists estimate PrEP to be about 99% effective among men who have sex with men and greater than the current 88% to 90% estimate for heterosexual men and women. For more details, see “How Well Do U=U and PrEP Work? The CDC Updates Its Answers.” Currently, the Food and Drug Administration has approved two versions of PrEP: Truvada and Descovy; both consist of two meds, and both tablets are manufactured by Gilead Sciences. For more details, see “What’s the Difference Between Truvada and Descovy for PrEP?”
According to Texas Health Action, the partnership with MISTR, which originally launched as a platform for gay and bisexual men, and SISTR, which serves women, allows more people to access HIV prevention as well as testing for HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). In order to get a prescription for PrEP, participants must mail in test samples for HIV and STIs, which requires a small blood sample from a finger prick, plus a urine sample and swabs from the mouth and anus.
What’s more, THA said that there is “little to no out-of-pocket costs for medication” and that it will help people who don’t have insurance or who are underinsured navigate the costs of PrEP through patient assistance programs.
When needed, participants can access a doctor. They also have the option of visiting doctors for tests and prescriptions and having the prescriptions filled and delivered to their home via MISTR and SISTR, which handle script renewals and paperwork.
“This innovative partnership allows us to quickly expand HIV prevention through PrEP across the state,” Christopher Hamilton, chief executive officer of THA, said in a THA press release. “The demand for sexual health services is increasing all the time, and brick-and-mortar health care delivery can’t keep up.”
THA also operates the Kind Clinic, which offers sexual health and wellness services in Austin and San Antonio. For more background on that, see “The Lone Star State Gets Two New Clinics” and “In Austin, It Can Take 2 to 3 Months to Get PrEP.”