RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DOCTOR AND ACCESS TO TREATMENTS
If you are diagnosed with HIV, it’s important to develop a relationship with a doctor you trust who prescribes HIV treatments and who you can see on a regular basis. You’ll want your doctor to be someone you can openly communicate with and someone who supports you and your treatment decisions.
If you don’t feel comfortable with your current doctor, you can always change. You’ll find HIV specialist doctors at public hospitals and sexual health clinics. There are also private GPs who are HIV prescribers. Some GPs bulk bill.
Can I get my meds from any pharmacy or have them delivered?
Generally HIV treatments can only be dispensed from a hospital outpatient pharmacy. In some states, alternatives include dispensing from specific sexual health centres or arrangements may sometimes be made allowing delivery to a prearranged community pharmacy or to your home if you live in a rural area. HIV medication is tightly controlled and it is frequently not possible to circumvent the hospital outpatient pharmacy system. Speak to your doctor or ring your local local AIDS council or organisation for people living with HIV for advice.
Start a conversation with your doctor today
It’s never too early to start talking about HIV treatment. Consider writing down all of your questions and concerns and taking a written list with you when you see your doctor. If you have a lot of questions, ask for a longer appointment so that you and your doctor have plenty of time to talk. Here is a list that might get you started:
1. How long do you think I will stay healthy?
2. What should I change in my day to day life to stay healthy/improve my health?
3. Does it matter if I smoke?
4. Will alcohol or other recreational drugs have any effect on my HIV?
5. How physically active can I be?
6. Should I start antiretroviral medication – even if I feel well?
7. Will there be side effects from medication?
8. What happens if I miss a dose?
9. Are there other medications or non-traditional therapies I should be using?
10. How do I keep track of any physical developments related to my HIV?
11. What are my T cells and should they be monitored?
12. How do I recognise complications or opportunistic infections?
13. What can I do to prevent them?
14. I’m feeling very anxious/depressed. What can I do?
15. What can I do to avoid transmitting HIV?
Tell your doctor when you think you may be ready to start treatment and also share any concerns.