REGISTERING WITH AN HIV SPECIALIST
When you first test positive for HIV you will be immediately linked to support. Registering with an HIV specialist is the first step to getting your treatment options sorted. There are around 30 HIV specialists located around the country – all based at public hospitals. They will work with you to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. GPs can’t initiate treatment but they can continue prescribing treatment once a specialist has started it. It’s up to you how much you want to involve your GP in your treatment. As with any life-long condition your regular doctor needs to be aware of your HIV status.
If are not comfortable discussing your diagnoses or sexuality with your GP you should consider looking for a new doctor if possible. You can contact the NZAF if you want to discuss this further.
There several types of HIV medication that attack the virus at different stages of its life cycle and help protect your immune system. The general approach to treatment is to prescribe a combination of different drugs that target the virus at different points in its life cycle. Fixed-dose combinations are a common type of HIV treatment these days. These combine two or more drugs in a single tablet, making treatment easy to take.
There are a few important things to know about treatment:
- Adherence is key – this means taking the right pill at the right time, otherwise the effectiveness of your medication may be reduced as may your treatment options.
- Treatments are always changing – to stay up to date with the latest HIV medications talk to your HIV specialist. Be aware that not all HIV medications are available in New Zealand. Different treatments are available in different countries. See a complete list of HIV medications currently available in New Zealand here.
- Allergic reactions – some people experience allergic reactions to HIV medication but this is very rare. There are treatment options available if this is the case. Symptoms may also resolve themselves. If you experience allergy-like symptoms, get in touch with your HIV specialist.
Learn more about different types of treatment here.