Finding your HIV care team

One of the most important relationships for a woman living with HIV is the one she has with her health care team. This might include a doctor, midwife, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant. This relationship can have a big impact on her well-being.

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What to look for in your HIV care team

You need a health care provider who:

  • Specializes in treating HIV and AIDS. Studies show better outcomes for women who have a health care team with HIV expertise who manage their care, especially antiretroviral treatment.1
  • You feel comfortable with and trust
  • Supports you and helps you face challenges
  • Accepts your health insurance

Questions to ask your health care provider

Some questions you may want to ask a provider who specializes in HIV include:

  • Have you treated many women with HIV? It is important to find a health care provider who has experience with the unique issues facing women with HIV and AIDS face.
  • What do you think about me participating in treatment decisions? Try to find a doctor or other health care provider who wants to work with you on treatment decisions, such as when to start treatment and whether you should use complementary 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. Ryan White HIV/AIDS clinics often have many kinds of HIV and AIDS services in one location.

Whether all your health care providers 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 health care team may include:

  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists/psychiatrists/psychotherapists
  • Dietitians
  • Physical therapists
  • Case managers

What you can do as a patient

Building a good HIV care team is just one step in improving your health with HIV. Being a proactive patient can help you catch problems before they become serious.

  • Always give your doctor or nurse as much information as you can.
  • Be honest about whether you are taking your medicine as directed.
  • Tell your doctor or nurse about any side effects you may have from the medicine.
  • Be honest about sexual activity and whether you are using latex condoms.
  • Come prepared to each doctor's appointment:
    • Bring a list all the medicines you take.
    • Bring a list of questions you may have about your care and treatment.
    • Be prepared to discuss any symptoms you have or any side effects you have from the medicine.

Did we answer your question about health care and HIV?

For more information about health care and HIV, call the OWH Helpline at 1-800-994-9662 or check out the following resources from other organizations:

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. (2013). A Guide to the Clinical Care of Women with HIV.