Some people see a general practitioner (GP) or family physician who is knowledgeable and has experience treating people with HIV. Others see an infectious diseases specialist or immunologist to treat their HIV, while their GP deals with other health issues.
Ideally, you will want to choose a doctor who is experienced in treating HIV and takes the time to stay up-to-date on all the latest information. In larger cities, it tends to be easier to find a family physician with HIV expertise. Unfortunately, in some parts of Canada, including some smaller cities and rural areas, it can be more difficult. If you need some help finding a doctor, your local HIV organization is a good place to start. You can also visit HIV411.ca.
If you have the option of choosing between doctors, consider interviewing them and asking them about everything that’s important to you. You’ll want a doctor with whom you feel comfortable and are able to talk freely, one who will answer your questions respectfully.
When talking with your doctor, remember that there are no stupid questions. If your doctor says something you don’t understand, ask her or him to explain things more clearly or use simpler language.
Discuss your treatment thoroughly with your doctor: what kind of results you can expect, possible side effects and how to deal with them, and if there are alternatives to consider. You might want to bring a partner, friend or family member with you to help you recall details of the appointment. You might want to take notes or even ask if you can record the conversation so that you can review it later.
There are also things you can do to keep track of your health between doctor’s appointments.
Your Personal Health Record
A Personal Health Record or app can help you keep track of your treatment and any health issues that might arise. You can use it to keep all of your health information together in one place—to have a record of your prescriptions and appointments, to collect and review your various test results, to look for trends over time and ensure that everyone on your healthcare team has the same information. You can record information in case of an emergency, a list of your healthcare providers, your allergies and the questions you want to raise at your next appointment.