HOW TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT HIV

Working together with your healthcare team to understand what's going on within your body may be the best way to get the most from your HIV care.

Being involved in decisions about your treatment can bring lots of benefits too. You’re more likely to feel satisfied with your care, worry less about side effects and better understand how antiretroviral therapy (ART) can benefit you.1

Remember, you are surrounded by experts. Use their strengths and knowledge for your benefit, so that you can live your best life with HIV.

BUILDING A STRONG RELATIONSHIP

Your HIV healthcare team is there to help you achieve the best possible health-related quality of life, but you also play a big part in making that happen. That’s why the relationships you build with the team responsible for your HIV care are so important.

Remember, you should feel safe, comfortable and respected within your HIV team. Feeling able to talk to them openly about whatever you’re experiencing is vital, from adherence struggles and treatment uncertainties to self-stigma and mental health. The more they know, the easier it will be to work together to ensure you’re continuing to live a happy and healthy life with HIV.

Read on to learn more about the importance of building strong, open relationships with your HIV healthcare team and discover how preparing for appointments can help you get more from your time with your doctor.

Healthcare professionals


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OPEN COMMUNICATION

Good quality HIV care is about much more than viral suppression, it’s about understanding the impact that HIV has on all aspects of your life.3

Being able to chat openly with your doctor and wider healthcare team is essential. The more they know, the more they can help you.

A full picture of your health and wellbeing

At your appointments, it’s always a good idea to talk about how your health has been, how you’re feeling in yourself and how you’ve coped with taking your medicines.

Talking openly to your doctor about your HIV, health and wellbeing gives them the best picture of your overall health. Of course, this isn’t always easy, especially if the issue you want to raise is something you’d usually prefer to keep private.

Uncomfortable issues

In the Positive Perspectives study, over ¾ of participants said there was one or more issues they felt uncomfortable discussing with their healthcare teams.4

Uncomfortable issues
Women and HIV
Women and HIV

If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor about certain issues, you’re not alone. No matter how difficult it might be, doctors hear and see all sorts of things on a daily basis and aren’t going to judge you. Chances are they will have heard it all before.

There are things you can do to help you feel more at ease:

  • Connect with a HIV peer mentor or community group to chat through your experiences
  • Planning for your appointments will also help you feel in control
  • Take a friend with you for moral support and to ask the uncomfortable questions on your behalf

Open communication can empower women living with HIV

Women living with HIV face different challenges to men living with HIV. Many women find it difficult to talk about these things with their healthcare team.5

To hear more about how you can continue to thrive as a woman living with HIV, watch the videos below or listen to the "All woman” episode of our Positively Thriving podcast.

In the Positive Perspectives study a significant number of women living with HIV said they were uncomfortable discussing their concerns with HCPs, despite over two-thirds wanting to be more involved in their care:5

Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV
Women and HIV

If you can relate to this, reaching out to community support groups or connecting with a peer mentor may help. Chatting things through with people who understand what you’re going through can help you feel more at ease when talking to your doctor.

Read on to planning for your appointments to learn more about how you can approach speaking to your doctor about the issues that matter to you and discover new ways to get more out of your HIV appointments.

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How to talk to your doctor about HIV
How to talk to your doctor about HIV

WHAT'S NEXT?

Living with HIV has changed. Thanks to innovations in antiretroviral treatment (ART), HIV is now a manageable condition.2 Read on to discover useful information, resources, and where to find support.

Having a long, healthy life should be achievable for most people living with HIV today.2 This may mean that your health and treatment needs change over time.

Once you've settled into your treatment regimen and are undetectable, you’ll likely only need to visit your clinic once or twice a year. Some of these appointments may even be online or over the phone.

References:

  1. Chen W, et al. J AIDS Clin Res. 2013;4:256.
  2. National Health Service. HIV and AIDS. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/hiv-and-aids/. [Accessed September 2021]
  3. Lazarus J, et al. BMC Medicine. 2016;14:94.
  4. Okoli C, et al. Poster presented at the 23rd International AIDS Conference; 2020; July 6–10. Poster PED 0808.
  5. Okoli C, et al. Poster presented at the 10th International Workshop on HIV and Women; 2020; March 6–7.

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