• Talking to Your Doctor About AIDS

    You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor about your personal risk factors and/or experience with HIV infection and AIDS. By talking openly and regularly with your doctor, you can take an active role in your care.
    Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
    • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
    • Write your questions ahead of time, so you do not forget them.
    • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
    • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.
    • How is my immune system functioning?
    • What is my viral load and CD4+ T cell count?
    • How quickly will my condition worsen?
    • Based on my lifestyle, am I at risk for other infections besides HIV infection and AIDS?
    • Do I need to be tested for other infections?
    • What can I do to lessen my chance of progressing to AIDS?
    • What is my best treatment option?
    • What other options are there?
    • What are the risks and benefits associated with each treatment option?
    • What medicines are available to help me?
    • What are the benefits/side effects of these medicines?
    • When should I start taking them?
    • Will these medicines interact with other medicines, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?
    • How long will I have to take these medicines?
    • What should I do if I miss a dose?
    • What can I do to prevent other infections?
    • What will I need to change in my daily routine?
    • How long can I expect to continue working at my present job? Or caring for myself?
    • Should I exercise?
      • What type of exercise is best?
      • How much should I be exercising?
      • How do I get started with an exercise program?
    • Are there dietary changes I should make? How do I go about it?
    • Should I stop drinking alcohol?
    • How can I find help to quit smoking ?
    • What can I do to prevent complications?
    • How can I avoid giving this disease to someone I love? Or to other people?
    • What are my risks for developing complications?
    • Will I still be able to have children?
    • Will I put my future children at risk for this disease?
    • Will I be able to live a normal life?
    • What is the likelihood I will be totally disabled or need help with personal care?
    • Am I likely to die soon? Do I need to put my affairs in order?

    References

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010. MMWR. 2010;59(No. RR-12):1-110.

    Conn HF, Rakel RE. Conn's Current Therapy 2001 . 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2001.

    HIV/AIDS. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/ . Updated September 2008. Accessed September 25, 2008.

    HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/ . Accessed September 25, 2008.

    Noble J, Greene HL. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby, Inc; 2000.

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