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Finding your HIV care team

confident adult woman standing in foreground, medical team of three standing in background

One of the most important relationships for a woman living with HIV is the one she has with her doctor. (This might also be a nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, or other person on your health care team.) This relationship can have a big impact on your well-being and how well you will do with your treatment. The doctor can work with you to create the best treatment plan for you. He or she can give support and help you face challenges. Your regular doctor or trained HIV counselor can help you find a specialist with experience treating HIV and AIDS. A doctor who specializes in HIV/AIDS can provide comfort during this time. He or she may also give you referrals to programs offering social support, housing, case management, and other services. The specialist may have a team at the clinic who can help you with some of these issues. When choosing an HIV doctor, you should feel comfortable with her and have faith in her abilities. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, this is especially important.

Even though you will find a doctor to help you with your HIV, over time you will still need to see a doctor for other health issues. If you do use multiple doctors, they must work as a team and communicate with each other. Some questions you may want to ask a doctor who specializes in HIV include:

Find a doctor

The American Medical Association's online database allows you to look up doctors by zip code and specialty, as well as find out about their state license and professional credentials. Search for a doctor.
  • Are you an HIV specialist? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people infected with HIV be treated by HIV specialists.
  • Have you treated many women with HIV? It is important to find a doctor who has experience with the unique issues women with HIV and AIDS face.
  • What do you think about me participating in treatment decisions? Try to find a doctor who wants you to participate in treatment decisions, such as when to start medications and the use of complementary and alternative therapies.
  • What other services and providers does your clinic have? Try to find a clinic or office that has many kinds of health care workers. Whether all your doctors are in one place or not, your HIV doctor should serve as a link to other people on your HIV care team. Other important members of your HIV care team include:
    • Nurses and nurse practitioners
    • Physician assistants
    • Pharmacists
    • Dentists
    • Social workers
    • Psychologists
    • Dietitians
    • Case managers

Building a good HIV care team is just one step in improving your health with HIV/AIDS. Being a proactive patient is vital. Always give your doctor as much information as you can. Be honest about whether you are taking your medications on time. Tell your doctor about your side effects. Be honest about sex and whether you are using protection. Come prepared to each doctor appointment. Learn more about How to Talk to Your Doctor or Nurse (PDF, 193 KB).

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Content last updated: July 01, 2011.

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