Frequently Asked Questions
Current patients can schedule appointments with their Care Navigator through their patient portal or by calling us. New patients can register here or call us at 1-833-GET-MYTK (1-833-438-6985) to get started and have a TeleKind test kit sent to you via mail in our discreet packaging, or choose to get lab work at a Clinical Pathology Lab or Quest Diagnostic Lab location. Once we have your lab results, we will schedule your visit with a clinician so you can discuss your lab results and treatment options on the same day.
All patients must be 18 years old or older to receive services through Telekind.
Yes. Most patients choose to be at home or in a private setting, but you can attend your virtual visit from anywhere with a computer, tablet or smartphone that has internet service, adequate lighting, a camera, and a microphone.
You need a handheld device or computer with a camera and microphone. You also need an internet connection that allows you to stream video. No apps or downloads are required.
Yes, provided your connection is strong enough and secure. We do not recommend using an unsecured public network for accessing TeleKind.
Your kit will include step-by-step instructions to help make it as easy and straightforward as possible, including instructions for how to do your swabs and finger pricks. If you have any issues, your Care Navigator will be happy to assist. Depending on your needs and goals, your provider will determine what lab tests are appropriate. Common tests include HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, Hepatitis C, liver function, kidney function, testosterone, and any others that are determined based on clinical need.
All services include regular STI testing as appropriate and based on discussion with your clinician. However, we do not offer STI testing as a stand-alone service.
TeleKind provides HIV prevention services (PrEP), treatment options for people living with HIV, and Gender-Affirming care.
Post-exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is a treatment for those who may have been exposed to HIV. This is for emergency treatment that must be completed within 72 hours following the exposure risk. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer this service due to the emergency nature of the treatment.
Clinicians use a lot of information to make a diagnosis, like the signs and symptoms you have experienced, your medical history, and lab work. Your clinical history and discussion with your clinician alone provide most of the information needed to make a clinical diagnosis, which means telemedicine can offer a convenient way to get the same compassionate, high-quality care as you would at an in-person visit. Since not every condition is appropriate for treatment over telemedicine, we will work with you to find a clinician in your community if we determine that an in-person visit is necessary.
As a TeleKind patient, you will have a dedicated virtual care team including your clinician and Care Navigator. We will work hard to ensure that you see the same clinician at each visit. On some occasions, your usual clinician may not be available at your preferred appointment time; if you would like to see the same clinician for each appointment, be sure to tell your Care Navigator so that they can do their best schedule your appointment accordingly.
TeleKind appointments generally last between 20-60 minutes. Your first appointment will last a little longer as your clinician gets to know you and together you discuss your goals for treatment. Follow-up visits are generally closer to 20 minutes once you establish a regimen that works for you. Since your appointments will be virtual, you will not have to spend time traveling to a clinic or waiting in a waiting room, making telemedicine convenient and time-saving.
Some services will require labs that cannot be completed at home or via mail, meaning you will need to choose a convenient location from one of our two partner labs, Quest or CPL. Your Care Navigator can help you find the location that is closest to you. Labs drawn at Quest or CPL are still at no cost to you, but it is important to note that labs drawn by any other lab facility will be at the patient’s expense.
Yes, in most cases. If your clinician decides you need a medication, your Care Navigator will work with you to ensure that you are able to receive any medications prescribed by your clinician at little to no cost to you regardless of your insurance status or ability to pay. They can also help set up convenient access to your medication, including direct shipping from our partner pharmacy to the location in Texas of your choosing.
TeleKind provides sexual health services relating to HIV care, gender affirming care, and PrEP for HIV prevention. TeleKind does not provide primary care and recommends everyone establish care with a primary care clinician if they do not have one already.
Our virtual appointment services and your regular lab work are provided at no cost to you. We will ask for your insurance information if you are insured, but we do not bill your insurance company for any appointments. We collect your insurance information if you have it so that the Care Navigation Team can work with your insurance provider to cover the cost of any medications. If you do not currently have insurance coverage, the Care Navigation Team will work with you to get you enrolled in a patient assistance program that ensures your medications are covered at little to no cost.
No. State law prevents clinicians from treating patients across state lines. All patients must reside in the State of Texas to receive care from TeleKind.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medicine that people at risk for HIV can take to prevent getting HIV from sex or intravenous drug use. Currently, PrEP comes in the form of an FDA approved daily pill, that when taken every day, can reduce the risk of getting HIV by up to 99%. There are currently two daily pills approved for PrEP use, Truvada® and Descovy®. Your provider will help you determine if PrEP is right for you, and if so, which medication is best.
Most individuals on PrEP don’t experience side effects. In your first few weeks of taking PrEP, you might experience minor symptoms such as fatigue, headache, abdominal pain, and weight loss. These side effects typically go away on their own. A small number of PrEP users might be at increased risk for kidney disease. While you’re taking PrEP, your clinician will monitor your kidney function with routine blood tests and telemedicine visits every three months.
Using condoms is a personal choice made between you and your sex partners. PrEP only protects against HIV, so condoms can help you prevent things that PrEP cannot—like pregnancy or STIs.
No. PrEP can only prevent HIV when taken consistently BEFORE exposure. PrEP cannot be started as a method of treatment AFTER an event of HIV exposure (such as sex without a condom, needle-sharing drug use, or sexual assault). There are options available to you if you think you have been exposed to HIV, however TeleKind does not offer this treatment option due to the shipping timelines of test kits and the immediate need for medication. We can connect you with services that offer PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), the 28-day treatment regimen recommended for people who have been exposed to HIV. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, it is crucial that you start taking PEP as soon as possible. PEP is only effective if taken within 72 hours of potential HIV exposure. If you are exposed to HIV during a weekend, or you cannot make an appointment for the next day with your primary care provider, go to an emergency room for immediate treatment. Do not wait more than 72 hours to start PEP treatment. If you are currently taking PEP, talk to your primary care provider before starting PrEP. Blood testing and a short wait time are required to make sure you are HIV-negative after finishing a PEP regimen.
To be effective at preventing HIV, PrEP must be taken every day as prescribed by your clinician. If you miss one dose, that is okay. Take your next dose as planned. If you miss two or three doses while you’re sexually active, or if you don’t take PrEP as prescribed, check in with your TeleKind provider. It will be important to get tested as soon as possible to make sure that you’re still HIV-negative. You can restart your PrEP routine after you get a new negative HIV test.
No, PrEP is not a vaccine. A vaccine provides immunity against an illness for a long period of time with no daily upkeep; PrEP is currently a daily pill (Truvada® or Descovy®) that, when taken as prescribed, greatly reduces your risk of getting HIV. PrEP does not provide immunity against HIV; as soon as you stop taking PrEP, you lose protection against the HIV virus. PrEP has to be taken every day for optimal protection against HIV.
PrEP is an option for anyone looking to reduce their risk of contracting HIV. The Care Navigation Team and TeleKind clinicians can help you learn about how PrEP can help you take control of your sexual health.
Yes. PrEP is one of several recommended options available to prevent the transmission of HIV. Talking with the Care Navigation Team, TeleKind clinicians, and your primary care provider can help you learn about all the options available to you to help prevent the spread of HIV for yourself and your family. We want you to also know that U = U (undetectable = untransmittable) and so the choice to take PrEP is an important discussion to have with yourself, your partner(s), and your primary care providers.
PrEP is available free or at little cost for many people through health insurance or various assistance programs, even if you are uninsured. Your TeleKind Care Navigator will help guide you through your options to ensure that your PrEP medication is available at little to no cost to you.
If taken daily, PrEP is up to 99% effective at preventing HIV.
Taking PrEP only when you are at risk for getting HIV is known as “on-demand” PrEP. It is also known as “intermittent,” “non-daily,” “event-driven,” or “off-label” PrEP use. This type of use is not currently part of CDC’s guidelines for PrEP use, which still recommends daily use for those at risk for HIV. Taking PrEP once a day is currently the only FDA-approved schedule for taking PrEP to prevent HIV, and it is the only regimen that your TeleKind clinician will recommend or prescribe.
When taken as prescribed, Truvada for PrEP® typically takes 7 days to provide full protection for anal sex and 21 days for vaginal/front hole sex. Descovy for PrEP® typically takes 3 days to provide full protection and is not FDA-approved for receiving vaginal/front hole sex. Your TeleKind clinician will help decide which medication is right for you. It’s important to use barrier methods, such as condoms and unused needles/syringes, when you are beginning a PrEP regimen to prevent HIV transmission. It’s important to remember that PrEP only prevents HIV, so you may still want to use other risk reduction methods to prevent things that PrEP can’t.
No. People may go in and out of “seasons of risk,” where there are certain periods in life when it makes sense to be on PrEP, and other times where PrEP may not be a good fit.
For example, if you start taking PrEP because you are sexually active with multiple partners who are HIV-positive and HIV-negative, and later you find yourself in a relationship where you and an HIV-negative partner are committed to having sex with only each other, you may decide that taking PrEP is not a good fit.
With proper clinical guidance, people can safely start and stop taking PrEP. Think of PrEP as an HIV prevention option where HIV-negative individuals take a pill to prevent contracting HIV for the “season” when they are most susceptible to being exposed to HIV.
If you feel your risk for HIV has changed recently and it does not make sense for you to take PrEP anymore, then talk to your TeleKind clinician about discontinuing PrEP. If you’re just experiencing a temporary “lull” in your sex life lasting less than a month or two and expect to be sexually active again in the near future, it may not be advisable to discontinue PrEP. Your TeleKind clinician can help you think through your options and make the right choice for you and your situation.
In most cases, PrEP has not shown to interact with other medications. Always inform your clinician about all other medications you are taking.
Absolutely! We are happy to provide this service and will send you test kits quarterly as part of your follow-up visit. If you do need treatment for an STI, some medications can be provided to you by a pharmacy, but some STIs will require treatment with an injection. If you need treatment that involves an injection, we will refer you to a community provider for treatment.
HIV Care FAQs
Yes. The amount of the virus in someone’s blood is called the HIV viral load. High viral loads can make it difficult for the body to fight infection, leading to a risk of serious illness. A high viral load also increases the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Medication helps to suppress the viral load and keep it suppressed. Medications to treat HIV can be taken daily for years with few side effects. There are great one-pill daily regimens, and research on some longer-acting treatments such as injections or implants that may be available in the near future.
HIV medication is often covered by insurance or patient assistance programs if you do not have insurance. The Care Navigation Team can assist you with making sure your medications arrive at little to no cost.
The amount of the virus in someone’s blood is called the HIV viral load. High viral loads can make it difficult for the body to fight infection, leading to a risk of serious illness. A high viral load also increases the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Medication helps to suppress the viral load and keep it suppressed.
“Treatment as prevention” or “U=U” means having an undetectable viral load. By taking medication to treat HIV as directed by a clinician, viral load can become so low it is considered undetectable. When the viral load is this low due to effective treatment, it means that HIV cannot be passed on to others. This is what is known as “treatment as prevention” or “U=U” – undetectable = untransmittable.
If you miss a dose of your HIV medication, just take your next dose at the usual scheduled time. If you find that you are missing doses on a regular basis, talk to your TeleKind clinician about ways to help you remember to take your dose at the same time each day.
You will have a virtual visit with your clinician every 3 months. We will also order repeat lab work every 3 months for your clinician to review.
Absolutely! We are happy to provide this service. If you need treatment for an STI, some medications can be provided to you by a pharmacy, but some STIs will require treatment with an injection. If you need treatment that involves an injection, we will refer you to a community provider for treatment.
Gender Care FAQs
TeleKind will see patients 18 years of age or older. TeleKind does not offer prescriptions for GnRH antagonist (“puberty blocker”) medications.
Yes, as long as the patient is 18 years of age or older. A mental health letter is not required to receive care from TeleKind.
Gender-affirming medical care is provided to our patients at no cost.
Whether you’re looking to start hormone therapy or you’re seeking a new medical provider for hormone therapy, you are welcome to receive gender affirming care through TeleKind with no cost for labs or medical visits. There may be costs associated with hormone therapy, but if you are experiencing financial barriers to access your HRT, you may qualify for our TeleKind Patient Assistance Program to help cover HRT medication costs. With this assistance, HRT is offered at little to no cost to you.
No, we will set you up for two separate appointments first – one to discuss each service. Each type of visit requires a different focus and information, and it is important to us that you have plenty of time to cover all the important information with your provider and get all of your questions answered. After your initial visit for each service, your follow-up appointments can be combined for your convenience.
No. State law prevents clinicians from treating patients across state lines. All patients must reside in the State of Texas to receive care from TeleKind.
You are free to make your own informed decision after speaking with your clinician about any reason you may have for wanting to discontinue HRT. You are free to make your own decisions regarding your transition. Your provider will discuss possible side effects of stopping hormones so that you have the information you need to decide.
Labs will need to be collected every 3 months or as directed by your clinician to ensure that your treatment is working.
We follow the UCSF guidelines for Transgender care. We do not prescribe bicalutamide as an anti-androgen for feminizing gender-affirming therapy.
Absolutely! We are happy to provide this service. If you do need treatment for an STI, some medications can be provided to you by a pharmacy, but some STIs will require treatment with an injection. If you need treatment that involves an injection, we will refer you to a community provider for treatment.
We can also provide PrEP services to you via TeleKind, or HIV Care if you are living with HIV.
Remember that not everyone develops symptoms, so it is important to tell your TeleKind clinician what body parts you use for sex.
Chlamydia is a common, curable, sexually transmitted infection (STI). In the United States, chlamydia is the most common bacterial STI, particularly among sexually active adolescents and young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that there are 3 million cases of chlamydia each year.
Most people with chlamydia will have no symptoms at all. If a person does have symptoms, they usually develop within one to three weeks after exposure to chlamydia. Persons with a vagina may experience vaginal discharge or a burning sensation during urination. For persons with a penis, symptoms may include discharge from the penis, pain during urination, or pain or swelling of the testicles.
Chlamydia, like other sexually transmitted infections, is passed from an infected person to a partner through certain sexual activities. Chlamydia is passed primarily during anal or vaginal sex. Although less likely, it can also be passed on through oral sex.
Chlamydia can be passed even if the penis or tongue does not go all the way into the vagina or anus. If the vagina, cervix, anus, penis, or mouth come in contact with infected secretions or fluids, then transmission is possible.
Because chlamydia is common and often has no symptoms, people who have had sex should think about being tested. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends sexually active persons age 25 or younger get tested once per year. It is also recommended for persons with new or multiple sexual partners and those who are pregnant. Everyone should talk with a healthcare provider about whether they need testing for chlamydia or other STIs. Chlamydia can easily be treated with antibiotics.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection that can affect anyone. Each year, 700,000 people (about half the population of Hawaii) are infected with gonorrhea in the United States.
Common symptoms of genital tract gonorrhea include abnormal discharge from the vagina or penis and pain with urination. Persons who perform oral sex or have anal sex may have symptoms resulting from infection in those sites. Gonorrhea has potentially severe consequences if it is not treated, but this infection can be cured with antibiotics
Gonorrhea is caused by bacteria known as Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Gonorrhea can be spread from one person to another during oral, vaginal/penile, or anal sex. Ejaculation does not have to occur to spread the infection. You cannot become infected with gonorrhea by touching objects, like a toilet seat.
Your risk of getting gonorrhea is greater if you have a new sexual partner, more than one sexual partner, or if you have other sexually transmitted infections.
Symptoms of gonorrhea depend on where the infection is found. However, some people have no symptoms at all. This means that gonorrhea can spread from person to person before it is diagnosed.
Anyone can develop an infection of the throat, urethra (where urine exits), and rectum. In persons with a vagina, an infection can also occur in the cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries if present. Infection in persons with a penis can affect the prostate and the epididymis.
Infection of the throat or mouth can cause a sore throat, but oral gonorrhea usually causes no symptoms at all.
In persons with a vagina, symptoms of gonorrhea can include:
- Vaginal itching or abnormal vaginal discharge
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting
- Pain or burning during urination
- Rectal discharge or constipation
- Pain with bowel movements
In persons with a penis, the most common symptoms of gonorrhea include pain with urination, a milky discharge from the penis, pain, and swelling in one testicle. Infection of the rectum symptoms includes rectal discharge, constipation, and pain.
Syphilis is a bacterial infection caused by the germ Treponema pallidum. Most new cases of syphilis are sexually acquired.
The symptoms of syphilis infection vary depending on how long ago you were infected.
Primary syphilis – (2-3 weeks to three months after contact with the germ) – one or more ulcers on your genital region or mouth, which are usually painless and go away on their own after about six weeks.
Secondary syphilis – (if the infection was not treated, usually a month after the first contact) – a non-painful rash, especially on hands and feet; feeling unwell and tired; swollen glands; joint pains, and warty lumps on the genitals.
If you miss the primary or secondary symptoms and go untreated, it can lead to long-term effects. This is why it is essential to get regular testing.
Syphilis, like other sexually transmitted infections, is passed from an infected person to a partner through certain sexual activities.
Everyone should talk with a healthcare provider about whether they need testing for syphilis or other STIs. Syphilis can easily be treated with antibiotics, but it is important to know that syphilis will not go away on its own.