Connect with us

AIDS and HIV

Tristan Schukraft: aiming for zero new HIV infections

PrEP activist removes barriers to getting, paying for anti-HIV drug

Published

on

Tristan Schukraft believes PrEP can end HIV transmission.

Let’s say you’re a gay man in Utah, or even Riverside, and you want to get on PrEP (preventative prophylaxis) to protect yourself from contracting HIV.

Now let’s say your doctor doesn’t know what Truvada is, which tests to run, or how to prescribe it.   

What do you do?

If it were up to West Hollywood resident and entrepreneur Tristan Schukraft, 38, you contact him at his new nonprofit organization 7Zero1.

Why? Because Schukraft believes he can improve the PrEP access and maintenance model. “That’s essentially what I am doing,” he said.

In the past few months he’s helped about a hundred men start on PrEP, including four within the last week who felt they were shamed just for seeking the medicine.

The name 7Zero1 is many things: a play on words, a public health goal, even an admonition.

“It’s the number on the pill,” Schukraft said, referring to the “701” engraved onto every Truvada tablet. “The emphasis is on the zero,” he added. “If we ultimately utilize PrEP, eventually we get to zero infections. It’s proven effective, [has] nominal side effects, if any.”

“So there’s zero excuses not to be on it,” Schukraft summarized.

A former fashion model, Schukraft likes to improve things, making them better, faster and easier. He led his own online travel company (ID90 Technologies) employing more than one hundred people, attempted to save legacy Los Angeles LGBT publishing brand Frontiers from extinction, and ran for a seat on WeHo’s city council in 2013 (he didn’t win).

Now his goal is to get every person who wants to be on PrEP – anywhere in the country – taking the drug.             

“I never thought I would be a PrEP advocate,” Schukraft told me, “but I had so many friends that wanted to get on [it].” He would send them to the LGBT Center in Los Angeles or to a doctor only to hear that the person ran into one roadblock or another.

“The great challenge is the doctor visit,” Schukraft said. Although Truvada can be obtained free of charge, to get a prescription requires seeing a doctor. And that visit can be costly, especially for the uninsured.

“For those without insurance [and in LA], we’ve negotiated cash pricing as low as $210 with partners like Sunset Walk-In Healthcare in West Hollywood,” said Schukraft.  Acknowledging “that’s still a lot of money, or a reason to procrastinate,” he added that the clinic offers walk-in appointments and Saturday hours.

“Sometimes clients have to go to a doctor that is not conveniently located or to a community clinic,” Schukraft explained.  Both of which can result in hours-long commitments, an example of “inefficiencies” in the system, he says.  

He may be right. In June 2016 the Huffington Post reported, “18% of [PrEP survey] respondents never filled their prescription and only 57% were still using [the drug] after six months.

The newly minted social activist would say that patient inconvenience is basically the reason.

In contrast to other nonprofit organizations, Schukraft sees 7Zero1 helping clients differently. Rather than sitting down with a caseworker, which eats up time, 7Zero1 will focus on convenience.

“You wanna get on prep?,” Schukraft asked. “Ask them the basic questions,” he continued. “Applying for the various programs offered by the drugmaker, or getting approval for their insurance, should all be done over the phone.”

Schukraft admits that what he’s doing “sounds too good to be true.”

“I introduce them to a doctor,” Schukraft said. “The doctor’s office calls to make an appointment. You’re in and out in 45 minutes.” The prescription is then received by the pharmacy and the medicine often mailed to the client. For free.  

It’s this last point that Schukraft emphasized. “People are busy,” he said. “They don’t want to call, or receive a call, but rather a text.” 7Zero1 works with Premier Pharmacy “as they offer free delivery in all 50 states and dedicated agents you can text or call.”

Schukraft sees the requirement for patients to get checkups every three months also as problematic. “We can increase the number of people [taking PrEP],” said Schukraft. “A lot of the doctors that I work with only require a follow up every six months.”

“There’s just drop off,” Schukraft explained. “People sign up, get on PrEP and they don’t go back for that three-month appointment.”

To get free help from 7Zero1:

  • Message them via their Facebook page (or use the email or web address below)
  • They will determine your insurance coverage. If you don’t have insurance, 7Zero1 will seek out cash pricing or alternative access options.
  • You complete some forms
  • An appointment is made with a knowledgeable doctor in your area
  • Your prescription is sent to a pharmacy
  • You pick up your medicine, or have it mailed to you

As for 7Zero1 getting funded, does Schukraft have a timeline or figure in mind?

“My goal is to basically see what the challenges are for somebody working through [the PrEP process],” said Schukraft. He estimates that within 90 days his organization will start accepting donations. Schukraft intends for 7Zero1’s services to remain free after they are funded. Learn more about 7Zero1 by visiting 7ZERO1.ORG or their Facebook page at facebook.com/7ZERO1/.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

AIDS and HIV

Peacock will premiere HIV documentary on World AIDS Day

Drew, who was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980’s when he was only 23 years old, was not paid for his participation in the trial

Published

on

Right to Try (2021) Peacock/NBCUniversal Television and Streaming

NEW YORK — NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock will premiere the documentary short “Right to Try,” which explores one man’s search to cure his HIV, Wednesday on World AIDS Day. 

The film, produced by Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer and directed by “The Late Late Show With James Corden” producer Zeberiah Newman, follows HIV survivor and activist Jeffrey Drew’s participation in an experimental vaccine trial. 

“We are thrilled our film ‘Right to Try’ will be seen on Peacock. Though Jeffrey Drew’s heroic journey is singular, his story is universal,” Spencer said in a statement, according to Variety. “This is an important film and with Peacock we have a wonderful partner to bring it to our audience.”

Val Boreland, EVP of content acquisitions at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, added: “It is an honor to share Drew’s story with Peacock users and raise awareness around the important issue of HIV research. We know the impact of this documentary will be far-reaching.”

The documentary shows the side effects that Drew experienced during the early days of the trial. The coronavirus pandemic interrupted the study, as the doctor spearheading the experimental vaccine started working on the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Drew, who was diagnosed with HIV in the late 1980’s when he was only 23 years old, was not paid for his participation in the trial that a major pharmaceutical company did not fund. 

“There are people who are still getting infected and sick and dying,” he told Variety in a June interview. “I would love to see a generation that doesn’t have to think or worry about this anymore.”
“Right to Try” won the Audience Award for Documentary Short last summer at Outfest, an LGBTQ+ film festival in Los Angeles.

Continue Reading

AIDS and HIV

Los Angeles observes World AIDS Day with star-studded concert

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and Juan Pablo di Pace will also be performing at the ceremony

Published

on

LOS ANGELES — As World AIDS Day is recognized around the globe, Los Angeles will mark the day with a free concert with a star-studded line-up at The Forum hosted by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AFA) and a ceremony at The Wall Las Memorias (TWLA) AIDS Monument in Lincoln Park Wednesday.

In a press release, the AFA said Grammy award winners Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera are set to perform in front of a sold-out crowd. Emmy-nominated comedian Randy Rainbow will host the event, which will take place from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

In addition to the entertainment, the AFA will honor Vermont’s U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a special video presentation. The award will be accepted by his wife Jane Sanders.

“This year marks two significant milestones in the decades-long fight against HIV and AIDS: first, for the first recognition by the CDC of the virus that led to what is now known as AIDS (40 years ago, in June 1981), and second, the launch of AHF (35 years ago),” the release reads. 

TWLA’s ceremony will reveal an expanded footprint of the surrounding landscape of the country’s only publicly funded AIDS monument. The monument, created in 2004, will also add over 1,000 names of loved ones lost to AIDS to the 360-plus names already etched into it and unveil new artwork. 

TWLM Founder Richard Zaldivar, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo and County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis are all expected to attend the event, which will start at 6:15 p.m. at 3600 N. Mission Road. According to NBC 4 Los Angeles, organizers also hope Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will be in attendance. 

Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and Juan Pablo di Pace will also be performing at the ceremony. 

World AIDS Day is observed every December 1 to raise awareness about AIDS and honor the people who have died of the disease. This year’s theme is “End inequities. End AIDS and End Pandemics.”

Continue Reading

AIDS and HIV

National Black Justice Coalition Partners with Twitter for World AIDS Day

Conversations about HIV prevention, treatment, and support on World AIDS Day must center on the Black community.

Published

on

Graphic courtesy of the National Black Justice Coalition

WASHINGTON n- On December 1, 2021, World AIDS Day, the National Black Justice Coalition is partnering with Twitter’s #CampaignsForChange and #TwitterIgnite on a campaign to educate people about HIV/AIDS and the importance of their involvement in the fight to end the epidemic. The campaign will center around a safe space on Twitter that encourages the use of the #MyFirstHIVTweet hashtag and urges people to talk about HIV and sexual wellness. ‘

World AIDS Day (WAD) is an opportunity to remember those who have passed due to an AIDS-related illness, support those currently living with HIV, and unite in the fight to end HIV/AIDS worldwide. 

An estimated 37.7 million people globally were living with HIV at the end of 2020, and since the epidemic began in the 1980s, 36.3 million people have died from an AIDS-related illness. 

In the U.S., the Black community is disproportionately impacted by the HIV epidemic, with gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men and Black women being the most affected. In 2018, Black people comprised 42% (16,002) of the 37,968 new HIV diagnoses, and Black  same-gender loving, gay, and bisexual men made up 26% (9,712) of the new diagnoses. In 2016, Black women accounted for 6 in 10 new HIV diagnoses among women. 

“Conversations about HIV prevention, treatment, and support on World AIDS Day must center on the Black community.  We must reduce stigma in our community, including by having critically important but sometimes challenging conversations about HIV/AIDS,” explained David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition.

“There are many people who are engaged in activism around the LGBTQ+ community and racial issues but are notably absent from the conversation around HIV. This is because the epidemic is not visible for them and because they lack accurate information on HIV. My hope is this safe space encourages people to send what will not be their last HIV/Tweet and to consider using NBJC to help find a testing location or to request an at-home testing kit. Too many people are still dying as a result of HIV/AIDS and this does not have to be our reality.” 

NBJC has created this Words Matter HIV Toolkit to support asset-based conversations about holistic health and wellness.  

For more information on how HIV/AIDS impacts the Black community and how to engage during World AIDS Day and beyond, view NBJC’s World AIDS Day Toolkit.  Get tested and know your status. Doctors recommend testing every three to six months.  

You can find a testing site near you at https://gettested.cdc.gov/ or if you are 17 years or older and live in the U.S., order a FREE at-home HIV test kit via the Have Good Sex program. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular