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What to ask

What to Ask

This section provides tips on how to plan for your next appointment, tips for how to talk to your healthcare team during your appointment as well as prompt questions related to your body, men’s health or women’s health which you may want to consider asking to open up a conversation with your healthcare team.

Tips to plan for your appointment

Tips to plan for your appointment

If you, like many other people, find it difficult to gather your thoughts during a healthcare appointment, you may find planning ahead helpful to make sure you make the most of the time you have available.

How to plan ahead for a healthcare appointment:

  1. Think about how you’ve been feeling over the last month or more, rather than just on the day of the appointment. Perhaps you’ve experienced treatment side-effects or mood changes that you want to discuss
  2. Use an app to log your mood and symptoms and make a note of things to discuss at your next appointment
  3. Write down questions to ask on any aspect of your wellbeing or your future such as family planning advice, how to talk to partners or colleagues about your HIV status or whether you are at risk of other conditions
  4. You can also take a short quiz on this page that will generate suggestions on questions to ask your healthcare team

What should I ask about bone health?

  • What changes do I need to make to my lifestyle?
  • Does my treatment regimen need to be reviewed?
  • How do I get enough calcium and vitamin D and what are my calcium and vitamin D levels?
  • What is my risk of thinning bones?
  • Do I need a bone test? (if you are low risk you may not need one)
  • What are the signs or symptoms of low bone density?
  • What treatments are available for bone loss and are any suitable for me?
  • Do I need more regular check-ups?
  • What else can I do to look after my bone health?

What should I ask about cancer?

  • Does living with HIV or any of my lifestyle factors put me at increased risk of cancers and, if so, which ones?
  • What changes should I make to my lifestyle or treatment choices?
  • What cancers can I be screened for and how often should I be screened?
  • What signs of cancer should I look out for myself?

What should I ask about diabetes?

  • What is my risk of diabetes? You will need to know your family history to explore this
  • What are my blood sugar levels?
  • How regularly do you check my blood sugar levels?
  • What changes should I make to my lifestyle or treatment choices?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of diabetes?

What should I ask about heart health?

  • What is my risk of heart disease? You will need to know your family history to explore this
  • Do I need to check my blood sugar levels in case of diabetes?
  • What are my blood pressure and cholesterol levels?
  • What are the signs or symptoms of heart disease?
  • What changes can I make to my lifestyle or treatment choices?
  • Should I take aspirin or a statin?

What should I ask about kidney health?

  • What is my risk for kidney problems?
  • How well are my kidneys working?
  • Have my kidneys become worse over time?
  • Can you explain how HIV medications may affect my kidneys?
  • Since I developed kidney disease, how would my treatment regimen change?
  • What lifestyle changes could I make to look after my kidneys?
  • What are the signs of kidney problems? Is there anything I could look out for/monitor myself?

What should I ask about liver health?

  • What can I do to make sure I am taking the best care of my liver?
  • What symptoms are associated with liver disease?
  • Can any of my medications, including for HIV, affect my liver?
  • What is the best treatment to manage my HIV and any additional infections?
  • Should I be vaccinated for hepatitis A and B?
  • Is my alcohol intake at a safe level?
  • What are the risks of having both HIV and viral hepatitis?

What should I ask about lung health?

  • What lifestyle changes should I make to help me manage my risk of contracting lung disease?
  • How can my diet and/or exercise regime help?
  • How can I cut down or stop smoking?
  • What are the symptoms of lung disease?
  • How often should I receive screening for TB or other lung infections?
  • What should I do if I feel breathless?
  • Will my HIV medication interact with my lung medication?

What should I ask about mental health?

  • Is there a test that I can take to check my mental health?
  • What lifestyle changes can I make to help my mental health?
  • Can you explain how my medications, including HIV medications, may affect my mental health?
  • What are the signs of mental health problems? Is there anything I could look out for/monitor myself?
  • Should I speak to a mental health specialist about how I feel?
  • What can I do to improve my sleep?

What should I ask about sexual health?

  • Am I at risk of passing on HIV if I have sex without a condom?
  • How might my HIV medications affect my sex life?
  • How can I look after my sexual health in the future?
  • How should I tell partners that I am HIV positive?
  • Where can I learn about safe injection of recreational drugs (ChemSex)?

What should I ask about starting a family?

  • Is it safe for me and my partner to stop using condoms?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I should make to increase my fertility?
  • What are mine and my partner’s options for artificial insemination?
  • Will my HIV status impact my chances of adopting a child?

What should I ask about sexual health?

  • Am I at risk of passing on HIV if I have sex without a condom?
  • How might my HIV medications affect my sex life?
  • How can I look after my sexual health in the future?
  • How should I tell partners that I am HIV positive?
  • How could my HIV and medication be affecting my sex drive?

What should I ask about starting a family?

  • What foods should I avoid whilst pregnant?
  • Why is it so important to take my HIV medications whilst pregnant?
  • Am I more likely to develop any side effects from my medication when pregnant?
  • I wish to become a mother but my HIV viral load is high (not undetectable). What are my options?
  • What can I expect from my antenatal care appointments?

What should I ask about the menopause?

  • What supplements or herbal treatments may help and how may they interact with my HIV medication?
  • What are the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)?
  • How may my bone health be affected after the menopause?
Tips for talking to your healthcare team

Tips for talking to your healthcare team

  • Write down a list of questions and concerns before your appointment. For example, four simple questions you can ask regardless of your age or the length of time you have been living with HIV include:
    • Does living with HIV or any of my lifestyle factors put me at increased risk of ______?
    • What changes should I make to my lifestyle or treatment choices?
    • Can I be screened or tested?
    • What signs or symptoms should I look out for?
  • Consider bringing a close friend or family member to your appointment or reach out to a local support group for advice or ask them to accompany you
  • Take notes about what your healthcare team says, or ask a friend or family member to take notes for you
  • Ask your healthcare team to talk you through your test results, which include:
    • HIV viral load
    • CD4 count or CD4 percentage
    • Vitamin D and/or calcium
    • Blood sugar (glucose)
    • Cholesterol
    • How well your kidneys are working
    • How well your liver is working
    • Blood pressure

To find out how else you can talk to your healthcare team and what you can do to prepare for your next appointment, click on the boxes below:

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