If you're concerned you might have or have been exposed to HIV, you're likely to
start by first seeing your family doctor. However, in some cases when you call to
set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to an infectious disease
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground
to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some
information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from
What you can do
•Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
•Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
•Write down key personal information, including any drug use, sexual partners, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that you or your partners have or have had.
•Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that
•Take a family member or friend along, if possible and if you feel comfortable doing so. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot. Write down questions to ask your doctor.
•Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you
make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to
least important in case time runs out. For HIV, some basic questions to ask your
•What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
•What are other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
•What kinds of tests do I need?
•Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
•Who do I need to inform about my condition?
•What is the best course of action?
•What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
•I have these other health conditions. How can I best manage them
•Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
•Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover
seeing a specialist?
•Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take
home with me? What Web sites do you recommend visiting?
•How often will I need to follow up with my doctor?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't
hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don't
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of
questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points
you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
•When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
•Have your symptoms been continuous, or occasional?
•How severe are your symptoms?
•What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
•What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
•Have you shared any drug needles?
•Have you had unprotected sex?
•Do you have any STDs?
•Have you had sex with anyone you know to have HIV/AIDS?
•Are you or could you be pregnant?
What you can do in the meantime If you think you may have HIV or may
have been exposed to it, see your doctor promptly. In the meantime, don't have
unprotected sex and tell any current partners that you may have been exposed