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What Services Can an HIV/AIDS Hotline Provide?

January 2009

Want to talk to someone about HIV/AIDS prevention or treatment? A hotline is a great way to go. Some hotlines provide information about HIV transmission, symptoms, testing, etc. Others provide treatment information or list the latest clinical trials.

Many hotlines are toll-free nationwide or regionally (for example 800 or 888 numbers in the United States and Canada). Beware, however, of phone numbers beginning with a 900 (in the United States or Canada) which are toll calls that you will have to pay for. A few hotlines also provide services directly on the Internet, both through websites and through e-mail. The people answering hotline phones are paid staff or, in many cases, trained volunteers.

Things an HIV/AIDS hotline can do:

  • Answer your questions about HIV/AIDS and sometimes other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well.

  • Refer you to local resources related to your specific needs (testing sites, HIV/AIDS organizations, HIV clinics, support groups, etc.).

  • Some hotlines can also send you written information in the mail.

Things an HIV/AIDS hotline cannot do:

  • Diagnose your symptoms, or tell you if your symptoms are due to HIV or another STD.

  • Tell you if you are infected with HIV or another STD.

  • Provide you with medical advice or legal advice.

  • Describe what treatments are best for you (only your personal doctor can tell you that).

  • Provide "phone sex" services. Believe it or not, many people call up HIV/AIDS hotlines as a way to get phone sex without having to pay for it. This is not what these hotlines are for. If you want phone sex, there are numerous phone sex lines and websites providing these services. If you are interested in these types of sex services, please use a web search tool such as Yahoo or Google to find sex websites and phone sex numbers in your area. Please do not call an HIV/AIDS hotline for phone sex!

HIV/AIDS hotlines have helped millions of people get their questions answered and get linked up with local services. To find a local hotline, check out the following resources:

  • Your local phone book. Hotlines are often listed in the Community Services section, in the white pages, and sometimes in the yellow pages under the heading AIDS or HIV (or a similar heading).

  • Directory assistance. For local numbers in the United States or Canada, dial 1, then your local area code, then 555-1212. For toll-free numbers in the United States or Canada, dial 1-800-555-1212.

  • Listings for many HIV/AIDS hotlines and services are also provided for you online here at The Body. Click here to find a hotline in your area.

    The following are some examples of various types of HIV/AIDS hotlines that can be called from anywhere in the U.S.A.:

    Project Inform Treatment Hotline

    AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service

    National AIDS Clearinghouse (local resources/written information)

    CDC National Health Line Hotline

    Hotlines provide a valuable service -- take advantage of them. The services they provide are as close as your telephone, or sometimes, as close as your computer.

    Do you want more information on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted dieseases or safer sex? Contact the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Health Line, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1-800-232-4636. Or visit The Body's Safe Sex and Prevention Forum.

    Until next time . . . Work hard, play hard, play safe, stay sober!

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This article was provided by Rick Sowadsky, M.S.P.H..
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