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Newly Diagnosed With HIV

Look for a doctor with a large HIV practice who is connected with a quality hospital, in a different locale if necessary. Learn how to maximize your time with doctors.

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Choosing an HIV Doctor

Even if you do not need treatment at this point, find the best doctor available to you who has experience treating people with HIV. In many instances, treating HIV is more of an art than a science.

The odds are you don't have to make decisions immediately. This applies to everything from locating a specialist in your condition to deciding whether to take a drug or treatment. Ask the doctor who diagnosed you what symptoms would indicate that a decision has to be made more quickly than he or she indicated, or when to call him/her, or go to the Emergency Room.

The more people with HIV the doctor sees on a regular basis, the more likely he or she is to be on top of the latest treatments, and to have an instinctive awareness of what is going on in patients with HIV.

If no such doctor is available locally, consider traveling to a city where such doctors are available. You can then do your treatment at home and be monitored by your local medical practitioner.

One way to find a doctor who specializes in HIV is to type your zip code in: offsite link

As you will see from our tool to help you choose a doctor, we leave it up to you to determine what else you think is important in a doctor. With HIV, we also suggest that you find a doctor you feel comfortable with - including discussing sensitive subjects. For instance, you need to be honest with your HIV doctor about your sexual practices, drug use, and adherence to any agreed to drug regimen.

Your doctor will be your partner in your health care.

Since there is currently no cure for HIV, assume you will be seeing your HIV doctor for a long time.

To help find a doctor specializing in HIV/AIDS, consider the following:

  • Ask another person with HIV/AIDS
  • Contact your local AIDS Service Organization. For a list of organizations, see: offsite link
  • Look at such sites as offsite link

NOTE: If your HIV doctor is a specialist in internal medicine (basically a family practice), he or she can also be your primary care physician. If your HIV doctor is not your primary care physician, be sure he or she keeps your primary doctor to date after each visit.

Maximizing your time with a doctor

Start preparing to maximize your limited time with doctors by taking the following steps. Taking these steps will also help you feel in control.

  • If you don't have a smart phone with a recording feature, consider buying an inexpensive tape or digital recorder so you can record your sessions and replay them later.
  • Locate a person to go with you to important doctor visits to help ask questions and listen. Sometimes emotions can make it difficult to absorb everything that is said. To learn about patient advocates (which is what a friend who goes with you is called), click here.
  • Buy a scanner or fax machine which allows you to receive and send lab and medical reports.
  • Start keeping a symptoms diary.  It can become a pain in the butt, but it well worth it for your health.
  • Create a list of medications,  keep it up to date, and keep a copy in your wallet. (Survivorship A to Z provides an easy chart that allows you to store your list and print it whenever you need it.)

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