Going to the doctor can be scary. It is normal for people to experience anxiety or nervousness before an appointment, especially if you were recently diagnosed with HIV. Here are five things to expect at your doctor’s appointment if you are living with HIV.
- Basic health assessment
First, your HIV doctor will most likely ask you the history of your health, any habits you may have that affect HIV and if you are experiencing any symptoms. Some of the questions may be personal, but it is important to answer honestly and to thoroughly think through any complications you have experienced recently or previously. Next, your doctor will check your vitals to ensure your heart, lungs and other systems are functioning properly.
- CD4 Count and viral load
Every three to six months, your HIV specialist will take a blood sample. By checking your T-cells, also called CD4 cells, the HIV specialist will be able to assess your body’s ability to fight off infections. HIV targets these fighting cells. Therefore, it is important to visit the doctor routinely. A viral load test will also help to determine how active HIV is in your body. The results will help to determine the most successful type of treatment for you.
- Treatment options
Treatment for HIV includes a variety of medications known as antiretroviral therapy (ART). Certain HIV medications can have side effects, so your HIV doctor will want to discuss which ones will be most suited to your lifestyle. After choosing a medication, the possible side effects and consequences of stopping the medication will be explained.
- Coping and additional support
While your HIV doctor play an important role in your mental wellbeing, you can also put additional supports in place like case management and HIV support groups. HIV case managers can help with transportation to and from appointments and can even attend appointments with you to help you understand all of what your HIV doctor is telling you.
- Plans for a safe future
When you have been diagnosed with HIV, there are a lot of things to consider. Your HIV doctor can help you sort through them. As a health care professional, educating you on ways to protect any sexual partners and prevent the transfer of HIV is an important part of their job. Getting ready for this conversation will prevent you from being unprepared in talking about your personal lifestyle.
If you are interested in speaking with a health care professional or receiving affordable HIV treatment, contact us today.