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Your HIV clinic

doctor meets patient in hallway

Most people get their HIV treatment and care from an out-patient specialist HIV clinic in a hospital with check-ups usually every three to six months.

As well as attending doctor’s appointments, it’s important to go for regular blood tests. They’re vital for keeping an eye on your health and if you have them done a few weeks before your appointment, the results will be ready when you see the doctor.

You will have other tests at different times to monitor your health and see how well any treatment is working. Some of these will happen regularly – perhaps once or twice a year; others you might only have if you have certain symptoms.

You can expect your doctor to explain things clearly to you, give you a range of options, offer you the best available treatments, pay attention to your concerns and respect your confidentiality.

In return, it will help your doctor if you ask questions until you understand, tell him or her about your preferences, and talk about any health problems or difficulties taking medicines that you have. Before your appointment, you might find it helpful to make a list of the issues and questions you want to discuss, so that you don’t forget anything.

Apart from doctors, HIV clinics may have a range of health professionals to help you:

  • Staff nurses do most of the routine examinations and tests, and will need to ask you questions about your health.
  • Nurse specialists have more in-depth knowledge. At some clinics, you might have your check-up with a nurse specialist, rather than a doctor.
  • Pharmacists give you your drugs and can advise you on dealing with any difficulties you have taking them.
  • Dieticians can give you advice about food and nutrition. For example they can help if you want to lose weight, if diarrhoea or nausea makes it difficult to eat properly, or if you have to take your treatment with certain types of food.
  • Health advisers can give you advice about safer sex and sexual problems.
  • ‘Emergency’ or ‘walk-in’ doctors may be available if you have a problem between check-ups and need to see someone quickly.

Your mental health and wellbeing are important as well as your physical health. Talking to staff at your clinic about how you feel about your health and your treatment, and other aspects of living with HIV can be just as important as telling them about symptoms or side-effects. They can often help, or send you on to other services that can.

 

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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 30/9/2012 by A.Latty

Date due for the next review: 30/9/2014

Content Author: R. Pebody (NAM)

Current Owner: R. Pebody (NAM)

More information:

Asboe D British HIV Association guidelines for the routine investigation and monitoring of adult HIV-1-infected individuals BHIVA (2011)

You and your doctor, NAM aidsmap (2010)

Visiting your HIV clinic for checkups, NAM aidsmap (2010)

HIV clinic services, NAM aidsmap (2010)