A positive outlook on being negative

Tristan Schukraft is the founder of MISTR
Tristan Schukraft is the founder of MISTR

Out Health

Maintaining health can be overwhelming. It’s chilling to know we are still struggling to overcome HIV while dealing with the current pandemic. However, there have been comforting advances in HIV prevention that can calm our nerves, at least enough to help us focus on the other things that can swamp us. According to the CDC, “PrEP can be prescribed by any health care provider who is licensed to write prescriptions.” There are several entities that strive to make this process easier. The CDC also states, “With telehealth (phone or video consultation with a health care provider) and mail-in HIV tests, it is possible to order a specimen collection kit which contains the supplies to do the testing required to start or continue taking PrEP pills, even if an in-person appointment is not possible. If you are receiving PrEP shots, you’ll need to visit your health care provider for your shot.”

One such entity is MISTR where it states, “MISTR is gay owned and operated, bringing the best doctors, pharmacists, and problem solvers together to make PrEP available to all who need it. Access to PrEP should be easy, and by embracing and driving change together we are one step closer to zero new infections.”

I had an enlightening conversation with founder Tristan Schukraft.

Our magazine serves not only the LGBTQ community in New Jersey but reaches a much wider audience through libraries and organizations that archive our magazine, as well as people outside the community who read the articles online. What information would you give them that would best describe the services you offer and the benefit to those who receive them?

Tristan Schukraft: MISTR was created to eliminate the barriers people might face when seeking to take control of their sexual health. Proudly serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico, we believe that anyone that would like to be on PrEP should be able to be. We also recently introduced Long-Term HIV Care, widening our reach and impact within the community.

What are the advantages of obtaining PrEP through MISTR as opposed to other sources?

TS: When you sign-up with MISTR, you’re not only doing your part in preventing the spread of HIV infections, but you’re also directly supporting lots of LGBTQ+ non-profit organizations across the country that support programs such as LGBTQ+ homeless youth, suicide prevention, transgender care, and so much more. MISTR is not only convenient and FREE, but you’re doing a lot of good when you get your PrEP online from MISTR.

In what ways do you market to the LGBTQ community?

TS: Reaching our patients in authentic ways has always been a priority of ours. In fact, last year we supported 53 LGBTQ+ events across the United States, effectively meeting our patients where they’re at. We also make it a point to promote our services in fun ways that promote sex positivity to eliminate any stigmas associated with PrEP. For example, we just launched a YouTube series featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race star Heidi N Closet and various personalities from our community.

Can you describe the process one would go through to use your service?

TS: First patients answer a brief online health questionnaire, then they would do the required labs via our convenient at-home testing kit or schedule an in-person blood draw at one of 2,200 locations across the United States. Once the lab results are back (typically within two days), there’s an online video consultation with an assigned provider. Assuming PrEP is right for you, your medication is shipped overnight free of charge.

What would you say to someone who has never used PrEP?

TS: PrEP is 99.9% effective at preventing HIV and anyone who is sexually active, should be on PrEP.

How do payment assistance programs work?

TS: MISTR manages all the paperwork on behalf of the user, to ensure there’s zero out-of-pocket costs.

Anything else for the readers of Out Health?

TS: For the first time in a generation, we can eliminate HIV if all those who are negative are on PrEP, and those that are positive adhere to their medication and are virally suppressed, also known as U = U or Undetectable = Untransmittable.