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Hi Jag,
The one thing I wish I had done right away is talk to a counselor. It took about a year for me to see a therapist, and I should have gone sooner. Contacting your local ASO is a huge help also. Our ASO helped me to get an appt at the local hospital, helped with insurance, drug programs, all kinds of info, support groups.

Write all your questions down, take notes when you go to the doctor. Can anyone go with you? ASO or the hospital social service department can sometimes have a case worker go with you to appointments. It is going to feel like you are in a whirling vortex, at least it did for me for months, that is normal. Take things day by day.

When you get there ask for the counselor or case manager and tell them that you are HIV and you need to get a Doctor referral. What is the nearest ASO that you can go to for help, and ASK QUESTIONS for your treatment, how will the meds get paid for etc...

The case worker knows what you need to do, they are familiar with this.

Write all your questions down, take notes when you go to the doctor." quote
Thats important!!!! It helps to have written out your may feel rushed and forget them.
But the message behind that is this: you are going to be a team with your health care must trust them and if you dont....change doctors. Its kind of bils down to this: gut feelings count.  Be informed...before you go for a doctors visit, read up on what you need to know, or come to AIDSMEDS and talk to the guys here.

THANKS guys and gals I am taking notes as we speak


Hey Jag,

I've copied and pasted some very generic info regarding the first doctor visit.  If I was more computer fancy I'd have posted the link instead.  Anyway, it's from the web site CATIE:
I know it's a little out dated but the questions to ask yourself after the visit are really helpful in determining if this is a good doctor for you.  If you can not keep an open and honest line of communication with your health care provider; if you don't feel comfie talking about certain subject matter with him or her than you might be compromising your own health care.

I agree with what everyone has said.  And ya, it's really important to find your local ASO; you may have to register there before you can access services.  That's at least how both ASO groups right by me work.  Hopefully they can help you find counsellors and support groups is you need it.  They can also help you find a primary doctor who specializes in hiv care. 

Managing Your Health, 1999 edition
Chapter title: Health-care Professionals, Hospitals, and Home-care Services
Section title: Doctors
Subsection title: Your first appointment with a new doctor

There are some things you can do to prepare for your first appointment:

Make an appointment to talk with the doctor. Make sure you will have enough time to get to know the doctor and give
the doctor a sense of your medical history and current state of health.
Make notes about the questions that you want to ask during your visit. If you're nervous, or worried that there may be too much information to remember, you can make a list, or take a friend along to help you keep track.

After the appointment, ask yourself:
Was I given enough time?
Did the doctor give me a chance to ask questions?
Did he or she answer them in a way I could understand?
Was he or she knowledgeable about HIV/AIDS? Was he or she willing to learn?
Did he or she listen to what I had to say about my specific conditions or situation?
Is he or she knowledgeable about the conditions specific to people in my situation (drug users, women)?
Is he or she willing to try different approaches to treatment?
Is he or she willing to work with me as a partner in my health care?
Did he or she seem to be prejudiced against me in any way?
Did I feel comfortable with this doctor? Was he or she friendly?

One visit doesn't commit you to a relationship. If you have some worries, you may want to shop around some more.
Once you have chosen a doctor, arrange to have your last one pass on your medical records. This will give your doctor a better idea of your history. Sometimes it costs money to have documents transferred. There is no standard fee; your doctor determines the cost based on the amount of paperwork and photocopying. However, you can expect to pay around $25 for a simple chart transfer.

You will also need to make an appointment for a complete physical exam. Complete exams usually take about 45 minutes. This will give your doctor a picture of the state of your health right now. This is called a baseline. It will be used to compare with how you're doing later.
If I can think of other questions not already mentioned I'll pass them on.  It has been a while since I had that "first" appointment that I really can not remember.  And ya, take notes, my head was swimming with all the new information I was bombarded with.  Just take your time trying to absorbe it all.  There's too much to take in all at once so slowly go over it.  If you have further questions jot them down for the next doctor vist and post them here as well.

Your head may be spinning but it will slow down long enough for you to see where you are going!




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