3 Things to Tell Your Doctor About Your HIV

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Young Caucasian male patient on exam table talking to young female Caucasian doctor
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Managing HIV is a lifelong process that can be challenging at times, which is why it’s important to build a strong relationship with your infectious disease specialist. If you adhere to your medication, see your doctor regularly, and make positive lifestyle choices, you can live a normal and healthy life with HIV.

At your next appointment, don’t forget to mention if you’re experiencing these three things:

1. A Significant Life Change

Your HIV medication depends on many factors, including aspects of your lifestyle. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant, if your job status or financial situation changes, if your relationship situation changes, or if you’ve received a new health diagnosis. These factors can all influence your ability to take your medications as prescribed, and if you’re pregnant or diagnosed with a new condition, different medications may work better for you. When you share this information with your doctor, he or she can evaluate if your current treatment plan still works or if alterations need to be made so you stay healthy and in control of your HIV.

2. Problems Adhering to Your Treatment Plan

Managing your HIV means you must follow your doctor’s treatment plan and commit to taking medications as prescribed. However, it can be challenging to keep taking your HIV medications if you’re experiencing side effects or your treatment schedule doesn’t work with your lifestyle. If you aren’t able to stick to your treatment plan, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Be honest with your doctor about why you’re having trouble so you can work together to find a solution, which might mean a different drug, dosing schedule, or lifestyle change. When you don’t take HIV drugs regularly, the infection can sometimes learn how to bypass your medications; this is known as HIV drug resistance. If this occurs, your current drug will stop working and you’ll have to switch to another type of HIV drug, which may limit your medication options in the future. That’s why it’s crucial to adhere closely to your drug regimen, and to tell your doctor immediately if you’re having problems with your treatment plan.

3. Changes in Your Mood

Dealing with a lifelong condition like HIV can be tough, and it’s common for people to experience stress, anxiety, and depression as a result. Fortunately, there are effective resources available to help you cope with the emotional side effects of life with HIV, from medications to meditation. Don’t be afraid to tell your doctor how you’ve been feeling. He or she can guide you to find the appropriate support and better manage your mental health. Getting outside help to boost your emotional wellbeing doesn’t mean you’ve failed; it means you’re using all the tools in your toolbox to live a fulfilling and healthy life.

Living with HIV can have its challenges, but connecting with an HIV specialist you trust can make all the difference. If you’re open and honest about what you’re experiencing, you’re on your way to staying in control of your condition.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Jan 16
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