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Whether you are newly diagnosed or transferring care from another provider, we want you to feel welcome and well-supported with the UW Health HIV Care & Prevention Program as your medical home. We want you to know that you can live a long, healthy life with HIV and that you are not alone.
We have included below an overview of the process of starting care with us, including links to get to know our providers, your care team, the clinical services we provide, additional support services available and paying for care.
Protecting the confidentiality of your diagnosis is important to us. We observe strict patient confidentiality regarding your diagnosis, care, and treatment. This includes the way in which we communicate with you via phone and mail.
We also take steps to ensure that simply coming to your appointments does not reveal your HIV status. Our clinic is part of a larger UW Health clinic that also includes pulmonology and travel medicine; there are no signs identifying it specifically as an HIV clinic. Most of our providers see other conditions under the infectious disease specialty and are not singularly known as HIV providers.
If you have recently been diagnosed with HIV, the recommendation is that you have an appointment at our clinic within one week of receiving the diagnosis. You are encouraged to research our providers on your own or work with our staff to find the best fit for both your care and your schedule. Our staff will also ensure we have all of the medical records necessary for your appointment.
Transfer of care
For patients who have already been in treatment for HIV, but are new to the UW Health HIV Care & Prevention Program, the first appointment is generally scheduled within one month of contacting us to request one. You are encouraged to research our providers on your own or work with our staff to find the best fit for both your care and schedule. Our providers will also ensure we have all of the medical records necessary for your appointment and that you will not run out of any medication while waiting to be seen.
Your first appointment
Your first appointment will be roughly 90 minutes long. You should check in at the main registration desk at the hospital and they will direct you to the clinic. There, you will meet with a pharmacist, provider, nurse and a medical case manager; they all specialize in HIV care and will be important parts of your care team.
Your pharmacist will review medications you are currently taking to make sure we have an accurate record and to answer any questions you have about HIV medications. Please bring either a list of medications or the bottles with you, including all supplements and over-the-counter medications. You will start HIV medication therapy as soon as possible after evaluation by the medical team to determine the most appropriate therapy for each individual patient. The pharmacist will also evaluate the cost of the medications and assist with any necessary steps to obtain them.
The largest part of the appointment will be spent meeting with your provider to discuss your diagnosis, clinical services we provide, and treatment options. They can also address any concerns you have with informing sexual partners of your status and preventive measures your partners can take.
Your social worker is a critically important member of your care team. At your first visit, you will get an overview of the services and support they can provide. One concern for many patients is the financial cost of treating HIV. Your social worker will help you understand and navigate the programs that help to alleviate the burden of paying for care. The UW Health HIV Care & Prevention Program also offers a wide range of additional support services through the Ryan White Program, such as transportation assistance.
Clinic nursing staff are also a part of your visit. The nurse will review what to expect and what is needed for future appointments. They will be available to answer any questions you have about the first and subsequent visits. If any injections or immunizations are needed, the nurse will provide them. The nursing staff is also available to provide educational and emotional support.
As part of your appointment, you will go to the lab, where blood will be drawn for several laboratory tests. The results of these lab tests will help you and your provider develop the best plan to manage your HIV care so that you can get the virus under control and protect your health.
Your first follow-up visit will be two weeks after your initial appointment to discuss the lab results. Follow-ups after that usually range from 3 to 6 months, based on your care team's recommendations. Some patients follow up as little as once a year.
Community Advisory Council (CAC)
At the UW Health HIV Care & Prevention Program, we are always looking for ways to improve the care we provide. We partner with our patients in these discussions and welcome their voices as we look toward improving services and care. One of the main ways we do this is through our UW Health HIV Care & Prevention Program Community Advisory Council (CAC).