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What Healthcare Providers Should Know About HIV

Last month I was asked to be a consultant and look over a HIV curriculum that was used to teach healthcare providers about HIV. A very good friend of mine works for a healthcare organization, and was looking for an HIV education expert who could step in and provide input and guidance on their presentations and curriculum.

I quickly jumped on the opportunity and accepted the offer to help his organization. From my understanding, I was asked to review all their educational materials and provide feedback and changes I felt were necessary as a specialist in this line of work (and life).

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The obvious is always good to discuss

The educational materials included several self-paced online trainings, PowerPoint presentations, and an in-person curriculum with interactive activities. These educational materials would be used to teach and provide insight to healthcare providers about how to properly speak and provide services to people living with HIV.

I have to say that the material that this organization was disseminating was very informative, but what it lacked was the personal aspect of a HIV diagnosis. I started to notice that it was very factual regarding HIV transmission, things like PrEP, PEP, and U=U. I believe that all of these things are important to go over when talking about prevention.

A few suggestions I made was to include important aspect like HIV stigma and disclosure. I have been HIV positive for over 8 years now, and I wish that the provider I spoke to when I was diagnosed knew how to answer the more personal questions I had at the time.

When presented with my diagnosis I wanted to know things like how I would tell my family or how I can have a relationship again.

What healthcare providers should be talking about

I am a firm believer that healthcare providers who are continuously dealing with patients who are at highest risk of contracting HIV should be familiar with what HIV stigma is. HIV stigma is negative beliefs or attitudes about people living with HIV.

I remember asking my healthcare provider how I would find the courage to tell people rather than asking how HIV affected my body. The healthcare provider that I had did an amazing job at breaking down what HIV was, but I wanted to know about how it would affect my life. I think in any conversations around HIV, disclosure should always be mentioned.

Disclosure means that you or someone is revealing a person's HIV status. These disclosures can either have positive or negative outcomes. Disclosure was something that I always feared when I was first diagnosed and what I had most of my anxiety around. Having a healthcare provider that is knowledgeable in both disclosure and HIV stigma can make newly diagnosed individuals feel more comfortable and heard.

Navigating the personal aspects of an HIV diagnosis

I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to further disseminate HIV education and prevention within my community. I hope that my personal insight on these topics can further assist other healthcare professionals in how they provide adequate care to their community's.

This or That

When navigating life with HIV, I seek out:

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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