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Choosing an HIV Health Care Provider

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Even if you don't yet need to take HIV medications, it's essential that you immediately connect with medical care. You'll need to find health professionals who are experienced in treating HIV-positive people.

Regular checkups with an HIV health care provider are extremely important, even when you don't feel sick. There are many tests and vaccines that are important for HIV-positive people, and a knowledgeable HIV doctor or nurse can be a valuable source of advice on staying healthy and learning more about HIV.

Because HIV is a complicated disease, you'll need to find a health care provider (this could be a physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant) with special training in HIV who has treated 20 or more people with HIV in the past two years.

Although knowledge and experience are critical, it's just as important to choose a health professional you like, someone you feel you can trust and be open with about your sexual life and any recreational drug use. You may have to try a few health care providers until you feel comfortable. It's worth the effort.

Your health care provider is your partner in fighting the virus. She or he will be in your corner for a long time to come, helping you deal with the ups and downs of HIV disease, the drugs that control the virus, the side effects that may come with those drugs, and many other health issues. So you want to be sure you choose a person you can feel comfortable with and you can talk to.