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25 Things You Need to Do if You Have HIV

June 2011

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10. Tell your HIV provider about any disease symptoms or medical problems you have, including fever, night sweats, weight loss, headaches, vision changes, mouth sores, swallowing difficulties, breathing/lung symptoms, diarrhea, skin rashes or sores, and changes in mental function.

  • Average score: 4.43 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 65%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 82%
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Your HIV provider will ask you about physical changes and symptoms of illness, like those listed above, every time you have an appointment.1 If you have troubling problems like these between office visits, contact your HIV provider. Physical changes or medical problems that may seem minor to you can signal a serious condition or may indicate poor control of HIV. Such problems may be side effects of your HIV drugs that your provider can address.

One of the HIV physicians who responded to our survey wrote, "I usually tell my patients to let me know if they develop symptoms that are outside the range of their prior experience -- either more severe, longer lasting, or new symptoms entirely."

Reference

  1. Aberg JA, Kaplan JE, Libman H, et al; HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: 2009 update by the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49:651–681. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/5/651.full. Accessed May 19, 2011.


11. Women of child-bearing years should discuss their pregnancy plans and desires with their HIV provider. Tell your provider immediately if you become pregnant.

  • Average score: 4.42 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 58%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 91%

Pregnancy changes the way your HIV infection should be cared for and could change your HIV drug needs. For example, levels of some HIV medications fall during the later stages of pregnancy,1 and some antiretrovirals should not be taken at all if you are trying to become pregnant because they could harm the fetus. Having an undetectable viral load is especially important during pregnancy and delivery to minimize chances of transmitting HIV to your child.

Some antiretrovirals have interactions with oral contraceptives, so you may need an additional or alternative contraceptive method if you use oral contraceptives and you don't want to become pregnant.1

Reference

  1. Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and Human Services. January 10, 2011. www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf. Accessed June 17, 2011.


12. Keep all your HIV care appointments, as well as appointments with other health professionals your HIV provider may recommend.

  • Average score 4.42 (with 5 the highest and 1 the lowest)
  • Percentage voting 5: 54%
  • Percentage voting 4 or 5: 87%

You should be an active participant in your HIV care. The first sign of accepting that responsibility is keeping all appointments with your HIV provider and all other healthcare appointments, including dental and eye checkups. Even if you're feeling well, you should continue keeping your appointments faithfully.1 The course of your HIV infection or your response to antiretroviral therapy can change. Failing to keep appointments raises the risk of sickness and -- in the long term -- death.2 If you can't keep an appointment, call your HIV provider's office to reschedule.

References

  1. Aberg JA, Kaplan JE, Libman H, et al; HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: 2009 update by the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2009;49:651–681. http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/49/5/651.full. Accessed May 19, 2011.
  2. Giordano TP, Gifford AL, White AC Jr, et al. Retention in care: a challenge to survival with HIV infection. Clin Infect Dis. 2007; 44:1493-1499.
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This article was provided by The Center for AIDS. Visit CFA's website to find out more about their activities and publications.
 
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