This is guest post by one of our members, sharing his recent experience in Austin. If you would like to contribute a story of how COVID-19 has affected you, please visit our Share Your Story page.
Last week, when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, I didn’t fully realize the impact it would have on my day-to-day life. It didn’t sink in how limiting life would become and that things like shopping or healthcare would become tricky to navigate.
I’m on DESCOVY. It is a once-daily prescription medicine that helps lower the chances of getting HIV through sex. To be prescribed DESCOVY, you must confirm that you are HIV-1 negative immediately before starting treatment and at least every 3 months while taking DESCOVY.
When Mayor Adler announced on Tuesday that restaurants were limited to drive-thru, pick-up and delivery service; bars must close; and gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited in Austin effective noon Tuesday, I panicked. With COVID-19 becoming a reality, I began to think through all the things I could get done before hunkering down at home. That night, when I took my DESCOVY, I realized I only had 3 pills left and was due for my 90-day check-up. I was afraid of going out in public to receive the care I needed to continue my treatment.
Should I stay in? Do I risk becoming infected with COVID-19? Was this critical care? Am I being selfish by getting tested?
So many questions filled my brain. I want to do what is right for society, but I also want to do what is right for me. That night, I went onto the Kind Clinic website and scheduled an appointment, so that I would have the option of going if I mustered enough courage. The next day, I decided to prioritize continuing my treatment, got in my car, and drove out to the central Austin location.
After parking, I was greeted by a person dressed in what looked like a hazmat suit. They asked, “Are you here to be seen at the clinic?” I nodded my head yes; they welcomed me and then explained they would take my temperature to ensure I didn’t have active symptoms of COVID-19. When they finished taking my temperature, they handed me a piece of paper to show the front desk. The paper read “98.6 degrees”. I walked into the office, checked in, and waited.
The office began to fill with other people but never exceeded 10 — which was somewhat comforting but still panic-inducing for me because I struggle with anxiety. I waited a bit longer than usual, but once I was in the staff were so incredibly welcoming and helpful. I am a new patient so there was a multi-step intake, but it never felt invasive or too personal. I was able to ask various questions and demystify some misinformation I had received. My visit ended with an advocate on staff who explained everything I needed to know about insurance, the portal they use to provide patients with results, and that if I use insurance to pay for my medication at one of their contract pharmacies, I am also helping to cover the cost of services for all patients, including those without insurance.
As apprehensive as I was to continue my care through this crisis, I’m glad I did. It was a bonus that the experience was stellar.