Most people get their HIV treatment and care from an outpatient specialist HIV clinic. These are usually based in hospitals. Check-ups usually take place every three to six months.
You'll have regular appointments at your HIV clinic - probably around two to four times a year - to make sure your treatment is working properly and that you're well.
As well as seeing your doctor, you'll have regular blood tests: two very important ones will be your CD4 count and viral load which together indicate how strong your immune system is.
Blood tests are vital for keeping an eye on your health and if you have them done a few weeks before your appointment, the results will be ready when you see the doctor. You might sometimes have your urine tested to check the health of your kidneys, for example, or as part of testing for diabetes.
The frequency of your blood (and other) tests, and appointments, will depend on a range of factors including how recently you were diagnosed or started treatment, whether you have been unwell, or are pregnant, or using Treatment as Prevention (TaSP). This will all be explained to you.
You'll also have other tests at different times to monitor your health and see how well your treatment is working.
NAM has a very useful guide to the different types of tests you may have at your clinic.
You can expect your doctor to explain things clearly to you, give you a range of options, offer you the best available treatments, pay attention to your concerns and respect your confidentiality.
In return, it will help your doctor if you ask questions until you understand, tell them about your preferences, and talk about any health problems or difficulties taking medicines that you have. Before your appointment, you might find it helpful to make a list of the issues and questions you want to discuss, so that you don’t forget anything.
Apart from doctors, HIV clinics may have a range of health professionals to help you:
Your mental health and wellbeing are as important as your physical health. Talking to staff at your clinic about how you feel about your health and treatment, and other aspects of living with HIV can be just as important as telling them about symptoms or side effects. They can often help, or refer you to other services that can.
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This article was last reviewed on
by Anna Peters
Date due for the next review: 26/10/2020
Content Author: R. Pebody (NAM)
Current Owner: Kerri Virani
British HIV Association guidelines for the routine investigation and monitoring of adult HIV-1-positive individuals 2016Brian Angus, Gary Brook, Funmi Awosusi, Gary Barker, Marta Boffito, Satyajit Das, Lucy Dorrell, Esther Dixon-Williams, Charlotte Hall, Bridie Howe, Sebastian Kalwij, Nashaba Matin, Eleni Nastouli, Frank Post, MelindaTenant-Flowers, Erasmus Smit, Dan Wheals
Regular clinic appointmentsRoger Pebody
CD4, Viral Load and other testsRoger Pebody
The basics – health checksNAM Aidsmap
BHIVA Standards of care for people living with HIV, 2013
Various people talk about their experiences of living with HIV.
CAB - Citizens Advice Bureau
HIV Drug Interactions
George House Trust
Equality and Human Rights Commission
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