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Finding a Doctor

Ask the Right Questions When Looking for an HIV Specialist

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Updated May 10, 2009

Finding a doctor is the first and most important step you will take after being diagnosed with HIV. HIV is a complex disease that requires specially trained physicians to deliver the complex care necessary for a healthy life. Complicated drug regimens with a multitude of side effects; the long-term complications of HIV such as lipodystrophy and mitochondrial toxicity (lactic acidosis) makes treating HIV disease a challenge. Because of this, finding a doctor is the first place to start. So how do people living with HIV find a doctor? Here is a brief guide to help you make good decisions. Good decisions by you now will pay off in long-term benefits later.

What Questions Should I Ask?

In order to choose the right doctor, you have to ask the right questions. Here are a few to get you started.
  • Are you an HIV Specialist?
    The CDC now recommends that HIV infected people be treated by HIV specialists. The complexity of the disease necessitates the care of someone devoted solely to HIV.

    Why an HIV Specialist?

  • How much importance to you place on women's health issues?
    For women living with HIV, having a physician dedicated to women's health is essential. Treating HIV in women is a complexity all its own and requires someone who recognizes the special challenge of treating women with HIV.

    Women and HIV - Special Needs

  • What services does your clinic offer?
    Find a clinic that utilizes a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and pharmacists that can treat the entire person.

    The Ryan White CARE Act - Its Impact on HIV Services

  • What is your philosophy regarding patient participation in treatment decisions?
    Don't consider a doctor who does not encourage patient involvement in treatment decisions such as when to start medications and the use of alternative and complimentary therapies.

    Get the Most from Your Doctor's Appointment

Know Your Rights

As a patient, you are entitled to basic rights. Make sure you know those rights.

The HIV Patient Bill of Rights.

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