When the Kind Clinic began offering free or low-cost hormone therapy for transgender people in March, word spread quickly here. Within days, the service was booked up until the end of June. Now the next available appointment is in December.
For the patients flocking to the clinic north of downtown — the first of its kind in central Texas — it’s a chance to begin a transition many thought they could not afford. But for the doctors, the rush is a chance to start addressing another major health problem facing the transgender community: the staggering rates of HIV.
By offering hormone therapy, the clinic aims to earn the trust of a population that often feels alienated by mainstream medicine and persuade those at high risk of exposure to the virus to start on a drug regimen that can prevent infection.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a regimen marketed as Truvada for use as a pre-exposure prophylaxis against HIV in 2012, but it is not widely prescribed.