Preparing to Relocate
Since my HIV diagnosis and during my career as a professional librarian, I moved almost every two years to take a new position with more responsibilities. After my second move, I learned that if I wanted a shift transition into care, I needed to have my medical records in hand before I moved.
Request medical records and prescriptions
Attain medical records prior to the move
The process of waiting until you get a new provider to make a request for your medical records from or current or previous providers can take quite some time. Having your medical records in hand is the best way to ensure your new provider has your medical history and can then write your prescriptions.
Ask your provider for 90-day prescriptions
Before your big move, I suggest speaking with your provider about writing 90-day prescriptions instead of 30-days. If approved, you give yourself time to complete the enrollment processes for each of the services you will need and having 90-days’ worth of meds can ease the stress of it all.
Use social media for HIV care recommendations
We should never assume our transition of care will be an easy one. In fact, it may turn out to be a nightmare if we don’t do some work prior to our big move. Use your social media platforms to tap into the many HIV-specific Facebook groups to develop relationships with people who are in the city you are moving to, and who can help make suggestions and insight about the state of HIV care.
These connections can also share their experiences with different providers. Ask questions about providers, the ADAP process (including what documents you need to have), and housing.
Make medical appointments ahead of time
If possible, make one or two trips to your new city. If you can’t make trips prior to relocating use the contact which your new support has provided to make calls in advance of your move. Try to build a relationship via email or by phone. That way you can make appointments with agencies and providers to at least begin sharing the documents and paperwork which is needed to receive services.
If you already have a new job waiting for you which will provide health insurance, there will be a waiting period until that coverage kicks in. If you don’t have a new employment opportunity and will need to apply for Ryan White Care Act and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), having a 90-day supply of your medication may ensure you don’t have a lapse in treatment.
Know how HIV assistance programs work in your new city
Depending on where you are moving will determine how the system works or doesn’t work. There are several states where the ADAP waiting list can take 80-days or longer. Some states allow you to receive emergency meds through the Ryan White program. Remember if that is the case you, have to do another intake to enroll.
One of the reasons accessing care is so difficult (whether you are newly diagnosed, relocating, or returning to care) is because: each need you may have - a provider, meds, case management, housing, food support - requires an enrollment, many with different requirements for enrollment.
It is critically important that we are proactive, and that we ask all the questions which will support your enrollment into care and other services.
How often does someone offer you unsolicited advice on your health?