Brett Grodeck (Author, The First Year - HIV) gives expert video advice on: What should I expect at the first appointment with my HIV doctor?; What questions should I ask my HIV doctor during my first appointment? and more...
What type of medical specialist do I need if I am HIV positive?
The research shows that if your doctor has experience with HIV treatment, significant experience, you will tend to live longer and better. So when you seek out medical advice and you're beginning HIV treatment, it's important to ask your doctor if he has experience with treating HIV and how many patients he's treated with HIV. The type of doctor that you need is an infectious disease specialist, preferably someone who has significant experience in treating HIV patients.
What should I look for in an HIV doctor?
A good HIV doctor should have significant experience in treating HIV patients, but should also be in tune with who you are as a person. Do they understand your lifestyle? Do they understand your habits and your situations? Can you speak freely with your doctor? Are you comfortable telling your doctor about potentially drugs or alcohol or sexual situations that you found yourself in? If you find yourself not being honest with your doctor, chances are very good that you don't have the right doctor.
How do I find an HIV doctor?
The first step to finding an HIV doctor is to call your state's AIDS hotline. Get the number of an AIDS service organization in your area or city. Step two: call the AIDS service organization and ask for a list of HIV specialists whom they recommend. Step three: talk to friends, support group members, counselors or other knowledgeable people about who among the list they have experience with, and who might be a best fit with you. Step four: interview HIV doctors like you would anyone else. See if they're a good fit for you. When you get the list down to two or three doctors, go through some of the financial realities. Is your insurance carried by this specialist? Are you comfortable with that person? Finally, make the decision, but always know that you can change HIV doctors at any time.
When should I make my first HIV appointment?
When you first test HIV positive, the first thing you need to understand is how healthy is your immune system and how far or how aggressive is the HIV that you have. I think, right away after testing HIV positive, people should visit an HIV doctor. You need to get a CD4 test, which measures the health of your immune system, and an HIV viral load test, which measures the amount of HIV virus in your blood. With the results of those two tests you can make further decisions. If you have a healthy immune system, perhaps you can wait longer before seeing another doctor about your HIV. With an immune system that is not as healthy, you should be in regular contact with your HIV doctor.
What should I expect at the first appointment with my HIV doctor?
The first appointment with an HIV doctor can be uncomfortable because the subject of HIV, in itself, can be uncomfortable. So you can expect that an HIV doctor will ask you a whole series of questions about your health and your life, and some of your habits. You'll most likely be tested for a variety of other conditions, such as Hepatitis B and or Hepatitis C. In an appointment with an HIV doctor, you can expect questions about drugs and alcohol, questions about sexual practices, the use of condoms, your overall health in general, and you can expect a physical examination where the HIV doctor will literally touch and feel you to determine the health of your body. You can also expect probably a short speech about safe sex practices and substance abuse interventions, and that would be what you should expect from a visit to an HIV specialist.
What questions should I ask my HIV doctor during my first appointment?
The questions to ask your doctor during your first appointment include the number of patients or experience that that doctor has in treating people. The research shows that people that doctors who treat substantial number of HIV patients tend to do a better job treating them. So one of the first questions to ask is; How many other patients that that doctor has treated? Other questions would include; What's the health of my immune system? How are my T-Cells or CD4 cells? How much virus is in my body? How is the viral load, is it high or is it low? How's the general sense of my health? Is my liver in good shape? Is my blood pressure high? So there's HIV questions and then there's general health questions that people need to keep in mind.
Will my HIV doctor put me on medication immediately?
The time to go on HIV medication really depends upon the health of your immune system, also called a CD4 or T-cell count, weighed along with the HIV viral load test, which is the amount of HIV that's in your blood. If you have a high viral load and a low T-cell, the time to start medicine is much sooner. If you have a very healthy and strong immune system, and very little virus in your blood, it may be months or years before you need treatment.