I am a woman living with HIV and I try my best to adhere to my infectious disease (ID) doctor’s treatment. However, sometimes I get sick and end up at the emergency room (ER). In those moments, I need the ER physicians that I interact with to actively communicate with my ID doctor about my treatment and care.
I have had experiences when an ER doctor would change my HIV medications, and it makes me worry. Then, when I go to my next ID appointment, my ID doctor is frustrated and wants to know why my medications were changed. Imagine how I feel as the patient!My meds being changed over and over again, and me, the patient, sick, stuck in the middle of two doctors who are not communicating with one another.
It is important to understand that an ER doctor is seeing you at one point in time. Your ID doctor knows your entire HIV history and what is normal for you. Before changing any medications to treat a momentary problem, ask your ER doctor to consult with your ID doctor. Putting something in your electronic medical record that your ID doctor may or may not see is not consultation. That is simply informing; not consulting.
What should you do if the ER doctor will not communicate with your ID doctor. I see that there are two other options:
1) Ask to speak to the ER doctor’s supervisor and share your concerns there. Remember, you can always go up the chain of command!
2) Try to get in contact with your ID doctor yourself.This could mean calling their office, emailing them, etc.
It is important that you and your ER doctor communicate with your ID doctors so everyone is on the same page about your treatment and care.
*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “LTAI Calendar of Recommendations for Providers Serving the Positive Community.”
Over the years, women have overcome challenges that have changed history. The women responsible for these achievements have been great sources of inspiration, encouragement, and empowerment. As we acknowledge March as Women’s History Month, we wanted to reflect on the women who have inspired us.
One of those women is Lupita Nyong’o, actress in the movie “12 Years of Slave.” Check out this video of her recent speech as she discusses her identity and the woman who inspired her to see herself differently.
So, what woman or women do you find most inspiring? Share below how those special women have had an impact on your life
Living with HIV does not mean we have to look, talk, behave, or dress a certain way. Individuals living with HIV come in every shape, size, color, and gender. The women of “Let’s Talk About It” tell us how they are “breaking the mold” as women living with HIV. This is what they have to say:
I Break The Mold by…
Saying what I mean, meaning what I say, but I don’t say it mean.
Trying to make myself better.
Breaking the stigma, being confident in who I am. Putting a face on HIV.
Not being ashamed of myself. I am a unique individual.
Being the woman of today and loving myself.
How are you breaking the mold-as a woman living with HIV, as a caretaker, as a mother, as a friend? We want to know!
For a woman who is newly diagnosed, I would tell you to love yourself first. I would tell you how beautiful you are…to look at yourself from the inside and not to see yourself in a negative way. Living with this virus, a lot of times we beat ourselves up and I wouldn’t want you to do that. There are people who love you just the way you are.
I would tell you about support groups and where to get help. It is very important that women see their doctor, keep their appointments, take their medications the way their doctor tells them, and to go to their appointments because that’s what keeps us healthy.
I would also tell women that when you get to a point where you want to have sex, how important it is that you use protection. Not just for yourself, but for the person you are with.
*This post was adapted from a message originally published in the “Let’s talk About It Magazine.”
My passion is to educate people about HIV and to encourage women to use their voice– not just other peers or the public, but doctors as well. For 30 years, AIDS has been taking a global toll and nearly half of those infected with HIV in the world are women (2007, womenshealth.gov). Stigma and discrimination still exist and we still need more education and awareness, both in the United States and internationally, in order to change these attitudes.
What I feel like most people do not understand is that HIV is a problem for all of us; the epidemic affects us all in one way or another. Either we know someone who has the illness, or know someone, who knows someone, living with HIV. NEWSFLASH: HIV/AIDS does not discriminate against anyone-whether you are rich, poor, old, young, black or white. It is a disease that no one should bear alone!
As a positive woman, I want to encourage you to understand that knowledge is power! One thing I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t have to have a college education to be a powerful woman. We have so much knowledge to share with others about HIV and living with HIV. You just need to use your voice!
My challenge for you today is to “pay it forward” with education— that as you learn more, teach other people. “Pay it forward” by talking to people in your life- your friends, family, neighbors or those in your faith community. Take a stand and use your voice to share your information about HIV. Remember, you don’t have to tell people that you are positive in order to engage them in a discussion on HIV. Share whatever you are most comfortable with. But, I challenge you to use your voice, because we must be a voice for the voiceless.
I lived so many years of my life feeling like a victim. I’ve had a hard life, and have been through lots of difficult things, including being infected with HIV more than 30 years ago. I hated the world. I was scared of it and I didn’t trust many people.
However, about 12-13 years ago, my life started to change. I realized I didn’t have to be a victim. I started seeing a therapist. My friends began challenging me more and more. It helped hearing things that were told to me “straight up.” I remember one of my friends telling me, “I don’t mind hearing you talk about stuff, but why don’t you do something about it? You don’t have to be a victim.” Those words hit me hard, and it took me a few years to finally start opening up to what my friends and therapist were telling me.
I learned that when you change the way you look at things in life, the things you look at in life change. It’s all about how we perceive things. Yes, I have HIV, but instead of saying, “woe is me,” I am working to do something positive about it. I’ve learned that in order to grow and move forward, we have to break the patterns we have been living. I know that for most of us, we are doing the best with what we’ve got, but sometimes we get stuck! I know you’re thinking, “Oh, you just don’t understand.” But, I say to that, “No, YOU don’t understand!” Unless we change something, the world will keep coming around and smacking us in the face. Changing my perspective about living with HIV and to stop thinking about myself as a victim has helped me to open new doors and take advantage of new opportunities I never would have seen before.
Today, I leave you with a challenge: Take a look at the way you perceive issues or problems — can you look at them from a different perspective?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day! Get excited! This day is dedicated to us—to all of the hard work and advocacy that we do!
For this special day, Let’s Talk About It partnered with Farmworker Justice and other organizations for an HIV “word cloud” initiative. Organizations were asked to share about the impact of HIV on women and girls, and these thoughts were used to create “word clouds.” The photo below represents the responses, in “word cloud,” format from all the organizations who participated. A tree was used to represent strength, courage, life and growth.
Take a look at the Farmworker Justice Facebook Album to see the individual word clouds! Look for the ones contributed by the Let’s Talk About It program! Don’t forget to share the photos on your Facebook page if you have one to spread the word about National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!
HIV is impacting the lives of women and girls everyday! During the month of March, a special day is set aside to increase women’s awareness of HIV- encouraging women to take a little extra time to talk about their health. This year, March 10th is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
Here’ s some ways you can get involved:
1) Learn about how HIV is impacting the lives of women and girl all across our country
2) Spread the word, by talking to people that you know about the things you have learned
3) Join up with others at events to celebrate the work being done!
As women living with HIV, or a caregiver to someone living with HIV, you know first-hand the impact it has on the lives of women. Remember, your voice can make a difference.
To learn more about this special day, check out the official website here.
The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS is underway! Have you attended any special events in honor of this HIV awareness day?
For those living in the Gainesville, FL area, we want to inform you about a vigil coming up on March 13th. The event will take place 5:30pm-7:30pm at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza (111 E. University Ave., Gainesville, FL, 32635 )
To find out about events taking place all over the country in honor of National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, check out the official website here.