Ask Your HIV Social Worker the Following Questions
When you think about quality HIV care and treatment, there are several professionals that play a major role in the quality and efficacy of your overall health and HIV specialty care.
One of those key individuals is your HIV Case Manager (CSM)/Social Worker (SW)! Please ask them these key questions to increase your ability to advocate for yourself and gain access to vital resources that will improve your quality of life.
4 questions to ask an HIV case manager/social worker
Resources for public benefits
Ask your HIV CSM/SW about public benefits, which benefits you may be eligible to receive, and which benefits are provided based on your health condition. There are resources available in many US cities that provide housing assistance, rental assistance, move-in costs, food banks, clothing, and assistance with covering utilities and living expenses.
Benefits available vary by locality and eligibility requirements determine what you qualify to receive or not.
Mental health services
Ask your HIV CSM/SW about what behavioral health services are available as a result of your HIV diagnosis or regardless of health condition. Mental health services are critical to overall health for everyone, especially PLWHA. It is critical that patients and clients maintain their mental health as it is key to good health outcomes and overall quality of life!
Ask for help, before things get out of control!
HIV support groups
I know that the words “HIV support group” can often have a negative or stigmatizing connotation. I once co-facilitated an HIV support group with an HIV CSM/SW. We were a dynamic duo and our support group members loved it! HIV support group, in my opinion and experience, are cathartic!
Whatever your individual HIV needs may be, a support group can facilitate access. Access to peers to share experiences and offer encouragement, advice regarding services, and additional resources. HIV support groups also provide a safe space to discuss issues and concerns regarding HIV care and quality of life.
Your HIV CSM/SW can connect you to local HIV support groups or groups that provide socioemotional resources.
Your HIV CSM/SW is an invaluable advocate and asset, overall, but especially during a medical visit. Invite your HIV CSM/SW to at least your first few medical and pharmacological visits. You may need additional socioemotional support, especially if it is a new diagnosis. This does not need to be a regular occurrence unless you need continued support. You and your HIV CSM/SW should discuss and establish an agreed-upon frequency and/or necessity.
Your HIV CSM/SW is trained to identify resources and also identify deficits/risk. Your HIV CSM/SW are your eyes and ears. They can smell “BS” a mile away. They can help you navigate the medical visit and pharmacy. They can also help set a tone with your provider that you are backed up by a professional that understands systems.
For example, you may qualify for specific benefits that require a doctor's approval or signature. Your HIV CSM/SW can address those issues early on so that benefits are made available at the beginning of your journey and not when things are in crisis.
Overall, quality HIV care and treatment is the goal! Your HIV CSM/SW is key, to improving the quality and efficacy of your health and HIV specialty care. They are an invaluable resource, so please utilize them!
How often does someone offer you unsolicited advice on your health?