Jeffrey Schaffer on healthcare without the stigma at testNtreat
When it comes to talking safer sex, registered nurse Jeffrey Schaffer has a refreshing air—and maybe one that many people aren’t used to from healthcare professionals.
“Keeping PrEP prep from people is just so ridiculous. I mean, it should be in dispensers on the street,” he says with a laugh.
It’s this kind of warm vibe, with sound advice served alongside a chuckle, that people can expect at testNtreat (tNt) at Outer Cape Health Services. As the program manager of tNt, Schaffer and his three-person team offer STI testing and treatment, HIV case management, and safer sex supplies to locals and vacationers alike. And—critical, given some uninformed and/or judgement doctors in non-queer friendly places—access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis, or medication taken before possible exposure to HIV to prevent transmission) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis, or medication taken up to 72 hours following possible exposure to HIV, such as after unprotected sex). Most of these services and others at no cost.
Don’t expect to get test results and just a “good luck!” Consider these real scenarios: A person walked in for STI testing and left with insurance and dental and behavioral health referrals. Then there’s the times Schaffer has helped vacationers figure out how to access PrEP back at home. And forget your PrEP for carnival week? Instead of swearing off sex—a task made infinitely harder after a few planter’s punches—Schaffer can provide a week’s worth of pills for free.
“I’ve had people crying just from the anxiety that they had before coming in, and then realizing, ‘no, I can be me here,’” he says of the stigma- and judgement-free environment. “That’s the best part of my job, but also the worst. Because what I do should be standard.”
There’s a kind of queer wish-fulfillment at the tNt, way more than just access to medication. No one’s reduced to sex acts or seen as just a patient. Everyone’s treated like the person that they are.