How Do You Find an HIV Health Care Provider?
You can find an HIV health care provider by using our HIV Testing Sites and Care Services Locator. Just enter your Zip code to be connected to HIV medical care and other services such as HIV testing locations, housing assistance, and substance abuse and mental health services.
There are other ways to find HIV providers and services too:
- Ask your primary care provider -- If you have a primary care provider (someone who manages your regular medical care), that person may have the medical knowledge to treat your HIV. If not, he or she can refer you to a provider who specializes in providing HIV care and treatment.
- Call your state HIV/AIDS hotline -- State HIV/AIDS toll-free hotlines are available to help connect you to agencies that can help determine what services you are eligible for and help you get them.
- Search the Referral Link directory -- The American Academy of HIV Medicine's Referral Link is a directory of credentialed HIV health care specialists. It can help you find HIV clinicians across the country.
- Use your home HIV test hotline -- If you received an HIV diagnosis by using an HIV home test kit, it is important that you take the next steps to make sure your test result is correct. Home test manufacturers provide confidential counseling to answer questions and provide local referrals for follow-up testing and care.
Why Do You Need to Find an HIV Health Care Provider?
After you're diagnosed with HIV, it's important to see a health care provider who can help you start HIV medication (called antiretroviral therapy or ART) as soon as possible.
ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they've had the virus or how healthy they are. ART can't cure HIV, but it can control the virus. If taken as every day, exactly as prescribed, ART can reduce the amount of HIV in your body (also called the viral load) to a very low level. This is called viral suppression. Viral suppression helps to keep you healthy and prevents illness.
If your viral load is so low that it doesn't show up in a standard lab text, this is called having an undetectable viral load.
There are important health benefits to having a suppressed or undetectable viral load. People living with HIV who know their status, take HIV medication daily as prescribed, and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives.
There is also a major prevention benefit. People living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative sexual partners. This is often called treatment as prevention.
How Soon Do You Need to Find an HIV Health Care Provider?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines on the use of HIV medicines in adults and adolescents recommend that people with HIV start medical care and begin HIV treatment as soon as possible. If you have the following conditions, it's especially important to start ART right away: pregnancy, AIDS, certain HIV-related illnesses and coinfections, and early HIV infection. (Early HIV infection is the period up to 6 months after infection with HIV.) Learn more about when to start ART.
[Note from TheBody: This article was originally published by HIV.gov on Feb. 5, 2019.]