Dr. Lewis describes how a woman can work with her physician when she is prescribed HIV medications.
Women who are newly diagnosed with HIV and AIDS often times find it a little overwhelming to go meet with their doctor and often times women are passive recipients of healthcare where we go in and we are prescribed certain prescriptions or regimens and we just follow what our doctor suggests, and so for women with HIV we really encourage them to become active participants in their own healthcare by actively discussing with their medical providers the regimens that they are being better suggested. What are the side effects? What’s the effectiveness of the medication? We find that the more involved the women are in their healthcare decisions, the more active they will be with consistently taking their medications.
Many women don’t need to take medications in the beginning and so that’s not something that they will need to do, but it’s very important for them once they are prescribed medications to really feel invested in the process. It is very challenging to take medications every single day no matter what, and so adherence is one of those challenges that we find when women are very involved in their healthcare they are more likely to be adherent with their medication.
In other words, I would recommend being prepared for your visits, understanding what your lab results mean, and understand what the doctor is suggesting. Be prepared to challenge assumptions. Be prepared to communicate how you are feeling and any reservations you are having about what’s being suggested.
Also I would recommend forming relationships with the staff members in the office, making sure that you are comfortable with the nursing staff, the front office staff, the nurse practitioner. The more connected you are to your provider in all ways, the more likely you will to be the follow through on the regimen that’s being prescribed.
About Dr. Jennifer Lewis, Ph.D.:
Jennifer Lewis the Director of Prevention and Wellness at the Southwest Center for HIV/ AIDS. She oversees HIV prevention for women, men and youth, and wellness which includes medical nutrition, behavioral health and complementary and alternative medicine. She is also the owner of Mosaic Psychotherapy, LLC, a psychotherapy practice that provides consulting and counseling services to individuals and families.