As an HIV provider, you are on the frontline in the fight against the HIV epidemic. Help Stop the Virus provides healthcare professionals with insights from HIV specialists on HIV care, patient resources, and tools. Together, we can work to Help Stop the Virus.
Open, effective communication between patients and physicians is key to developing a relationship that engages HIV patients in care. In the four short videos below, 3 HIV specialists discuss how they educate and connect with their patients while conducting baseline evaluations.4 See the DHHS Guidelines
for more information.
Every HIV-infected patient entering into care should have a comprehensive history taken. This includes a medical history—including antiretroviral (ARV) use and current use of concomitant medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements—and a social/sexual history, including tobacco, alcohol, and recreational drug use, as well as family medical history.1,4
A physical examination should be conducted that reviews HIV-related symptoms and screens for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and opportunistic infections (OIs) as well as age- and sex-specific health problems. In addition, it is necessary to obtain appropriate laboratory evaluations, including confirmation of HIV diagnosis using an HIV serological test, in order to stage HIV, assist in selecting drug regimens, and determine the need for OI prophylaxis.1,4
The initial evaluation should also include a discussion on the benefits of antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the patient's health and to prevent HIV transmission.1
Information gathered during the baseline evaluation can be used to define patient treatment goals and efforts to optimize adherence to HIV care as well as to assess non-adherence hurdles that can include mental health, social, and economic factors. The evaluation should also assess the patient's readiness for ART.1
Providers should ensure patient understanding about HIV, its transmission, and reduction of any risk behaviors. It is important to recognize how the patient is coping with the diagnosis of HIV infection, to whom they have disclosed their HIV status, and what support systems they have in place.1
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