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.
General Tips for Gathering Information
Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your doctor:
Bring someone else with you if it makes you more comfortable. Sometimes 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.
Specific Questions to Ask Your Doctor
About AIDS How is my immune system functioning?What is my viral load and CD4+ T cell count?How quickly will my condition worsen?
About Your Risk of Developing AIDS 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?
About Treatment Options What is my best treatment option?What other options are there?What are the risks and benefits associated with each treatment option?What medications are available to help me?What are the benefits/side effects of these medications?When should I start taking them?Will these medications interact with other medications, over-the-counter products, or dietary or herbal supplements I am already taking for other conditions?How long will I have to take these medications?What should I do if I miss a dose?What can I do to prevent other infections?
About Lifestyle Changes 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
What can I do to prevent complications?How can I avoid giving this disease to someone I love?
Or to other people?
About Outlook 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?
A guide to primary care of people with HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at:
http://hab.hrsa.gov/deliverhivaidscare/files/primary2004ed.pdf. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV and AIDS. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at:
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/hiv-and-aids.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV/AIDS. Center for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/index.html. Accessed May 15, 2013.
HIV/AIDS. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease website. Available at:
http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/HIVAIDS/Understanding/Pages/whatAreHIVAIDS.aspx. Accessed May 15, 2013.
Last reviewed December 2013 by David L Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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