We asked people living with HIV what a good diagnosis would look like. They said ‘not feeling abandoned’ and ‘not getting out-of-date information’ mattered the most.
It’s increasingly common for HIV diagnosis to occur in clinics that see few or no cases of HIV. If this is your first time giving an HIV diagnosis, it’s completely understandable that you might not feel up-to-date. You can be upfront about this:
I’d rather a doctor say ‘I don’t know much about this. I’m referring you to a specialist and we’ll make appointments for support services. We can learn about this together.’
Likewise, HIV diagnoses are increasingly happening in consultations with the first available doctor at a GP clinic. You may not know the patient well or at all.
Some people with HIV have felt abandoned when a GP has given the diagnosis, done the forms and sent them out the door with a specialist referral.
The difficulty here is that bad experiences of diagnosis can lead some patients to put off making follow-up appointments for specialist care. As we’ll cover, early treatment is essential for health and prevention, so this is a big problem.
It is common for people with HIV to be managed by their usual GP with support from an s100 prescriber — another GP who has done specialist training enabling them to prescribe highly specialised drugs.
There are guidelines and training to support you in shared care.
Doctors who continue to treat patients with HIV often report these are some of the most rewarding and meaningful patient relationships they have ever participated in.