Coordinating different healthcare providers can be a challenging task and there is no “one-size fits all” approach to guide this process. For People Living with HIV, coordinating healthcare providers will change over time as healthcare needs also change and involve different specialists.
If you are living with HIV and over 50, this might be the case if you need to see different doctors for other conditions, or maintain regular appointment for general check-ups.
It is important to get the right support to coordinate your healthcare needs and keep on top of any health concerns as they arise. You can choose the model of care coordination that suits you best.
Why is this important for People Living with HIV who are 50+ (PLHIV50+)?
With the effectiveness of HIV treatments, PLHIV50+ who get and stay on treatment can keep the virus suppressed and live long and healthy lives. As a result, PLHIV50+ often experience the same aging conditions as the general population, however, these health conditions may appear earlier or occur more frequently.
For PLHIV50+ this highlights the importance of care coordination and speaking to your healthcare provider to get support with managing and overseeing the different doctors and treatments for each of the conditions. Not only does this give you more control of your health and well-being, it ensures you get assistant coordinating your own healthcare.
There are many ways that you can arrange care coordination, which might include one or a combination of the below strategies:
General Practitioners (GPs)
GPs play an important role supporting the community and connecting patients to other health services through a dedicated referral system. They are also well-placed to coordinate the services you see for different health conditions, and support you with the combination of advice, medication and treatment plans that these specialists provide. While GPs do have a record of specialists they refer you to, speaking directly with your GP and asking for their support with care coordination is a good way to start the conversation. This will allow you to discuss any issues you have managing your healthcare overall and inform them on how best they can support you.
HIV specialists typically work in hospitals or at dedicated medical practices where they support people living with HIV in their journey with treatment and health management. For some people, HIV specialists are primary health providers and coordinate a number of other services as well as general health needs. HIV specialists work with patients to recommend other healthcare services and support you in accessing other specialists other health needs. If you see a HIV specialist and would like support with care coordination and managing other specialists, speak to them to see how they can offer advice and guidance to you.
HIV Nurses and social workers
There are HIV specialist nurses and social workers in a range of settings who can help you to coordinate your care and support you to age well with HIV. HIV specialist nurses work with your other health providers and offer a range of at-home and community-focused services across Victoria. In particular, they can provide secondary consultation and advice, help connect you with other services, and manage your healthcare needs.
Click here to read more about HIV Nurses and social workers who can help.