You may work with a range of health care providers to manage your HIV infection including general practitioners, infectious diseases specialists, sexual health specialists, complementary therapists, nurses, gynaecologists, physiotherapists, psychiatrists, counsellors, and social workers. Some you may use briefly. Others will become the backbone of your health care. Ideally, your health care providers will use a team approach to optimise your overall health and wellbeing.
Choosing your health care providers is an important process because you need to feel comfortable and confident with those providing your care. Consider the following questions:
Some women avoid telling their doctor they are using any complementary therapies because they are worried their doctor will be judgemental and won’t support them. Some doctors may be less supportive than others but most are prepared to work with complementary therapists to ensure their patient is getting the best quality care available. If you are interested in complementary therapies, it may be a good idea to be upfront about it and establish whether your doctor is prepared to work co-operatively with other therapists (see Complementary Therapies).
A note on complementary therapists
Many women with HIV use complementary therapies, however, this area is largely unregulated so it can be confusing or difficult to work out whether an alternative therapist is appropriately qualified and whether the treatments they are prescribing are safe (particularly if you are using any antiretroviral treatments). Some complementary therapies have professional bodies which can be a guide to the qualifications of the therapist although it’s not a guarantee of their work. Your local PLHIV support organisation should be able to refer you to qualified practitioners who are experienced in working with people with HIV. Avoid any therapist who claims to be able to ‘cure’ HIV. (See Complementary Therapies).