HOW OFTEN DO I HAVE TO GO?
Most of you will go to the hospital every 3 months. This is to check your blood and see how your HIV medication is working. All hospitals run clinics differently so not everything we explain here will be the same for each case. As well as your blood, the doctor or nurse may also check your height and weight and blood pressure, and also sometimes run a urine test.
Your doctor/nurse will usually tell you how your blood is doing from the tests you had at your last appointment. You will hear them talk about your CD4 count and viral load. These tell you how your immune system is doing. To be as healthy as possible you are aiming to have a high CD4 number and a low viral load number.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions or say if you didn’t understand something. This is really important as otherwise your doctor will think you understand it all. Remember this is your appointment for your health so it is important you leave your appointment feeling like you understand everything that is happening to you and that any questions or concerns you have about your health and wellbeing.
As part of their job, nurses and doctors have to promise to keep ALL your health information confidential, which means they are not allowed to tell anyone else about it. You can tell them if you forget to take your medication or have decided to stop taking it. It is good to be truthful about your meds as it will help them to keep an eye on you in the best way possible. It also means they can understand your blood test better.
They will be able to answer your questions and they won’t say anything to your parents or carers about anything you talk about as it is private. You can also talk to them if you are having problems at home, at school or with friends. They can be a helpful person to talk to about anything that is bothering you that you may find hard to talk to your family or friends about.
You might want to know more about growing up, puberty, sexual health and sex, as HIV can be passed on by having sex. You may have questions you want to ask so you can understand HIV better. If you want some time alone to talk about more personal things and are not getting it, you could say something to your nurse when you have a moment alone with her/ him. You don't need to be embarrassed as this is their job and they are used to talking about all sorts of things with children and young people.
Below are some tools you can use to help with your clinic appointments:
You can use the Checklist for clinics tool (above) in your clinic appointments to help your conversations with your Dr or Nurse. You can also direct your Dr or Nurse to this website where they can download and print this form for you to use in clinic to show what you would like to talk about. (click on the image to view and download the resource).
There is also a really useful document created by the NHS to help patients become involved in their own healthcare decisions and treatment options. (Click on the image above to view and download.)