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How would you feel about treating a patient who has tested positive for Hiv?

What are protocol for someone that has tested for Hiv ? How can you tell from just physical observation? #doctor #medicine #healthcare

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Thomas’s Answer

Treating a patient that has HIV is terms of a medical approach can be very specialized other than that you treat them like any other patient with compassion, love and devotion
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Samara’s Answer

Hi Iyanna!
You cannot tell if someone has HIV just from looking at them, or even from a physical examination in a clinic. The only way to tell if someone has HIV is to do a blood test. Interestingly, about 13% of people who have HIV don't know they have it (https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/data-and-trends/statistics). This is because there are no outward signs of disease.

HIV is still a reportable disease in many states. This means that if I have a patient test positive for HIV, I need to report it to the Department of Public Health in my state. These are other medical professionals who can help this person monitor their disease and access further care. They also help count the number of new infections in a state and monitor how many patients have HIV.

Treating patients with HIV is much like treating any other patient with a chronic, life-long illness. I am a pediatrician, so many of my patients who have HIV got it by accident--they got a blood transfusion that was infected or they got it at birth from their mom who didn't know she was infected or a mom who couldn't receive adequate medical care. Even patients who got HIV in other ways, such as high-risk sex practices or IV drug users, still deserve our compassion and empathy, in addition to appropriate medication and routine monitoring of their illness.

Universal precautions take care of most of the risk of treating patients who have HIV--these are normal precautions we take with every patient including washing our hands, wearing gloves, and being careful about needles. If there was a concern about exposure (such as a needle stick), a physician or other medical provider would immediately get tested and start on Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP). This is a medication and testing protocol to prevent infection in someone who was accidentally exposed to HIV.

So, in summary, patients who have HIV are still patients who deserve our understanding and care. There are no external signs of HIV, it can only be diagnosed by blood test. It is a life-long disease that can be managed much like many other life-long diseases. Normal universal precautions eliminate most of the risk of treating patients with HIV, though there are some protocols that are specific to HIV patients.

Samara recommends the following next steps:

You can learn more about HIV here: https://www.hiv.gov/hiv-basics/overview/about-hiv-and-aids/what-are-hiv-and-aids
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