Do you have HIV questions to ask your doctor? Here are some ways to start the conversation.

Talking to your doctor about sex can be awkward, but it’s important.

Do you have questions about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) for your doctor? Talking with a doctor about HIV or sexual health can feel uncomfortable for many people. It is crucial, however, that anyone who is sexually active have honest conversations with their health care providers. Here are some tips and ways to get the conversation started.

Importance of talking about HIV and sexual health

In order for your doctor to provide the best care for you, they should know as much as possible about topics that affect your health. For instance, you can understand your risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. If you are in a high-risk group based on your sexual practices or intravenous (IV) drug use, your doctor can explain ways to protect yourself and your sexual partners from infection.

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“Your doctor should be asking about your sexual health, in order to get a full picture of your overall health,” said Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Barret. “You also should be proactive on your own behalf, because it’s also important for you to know your risks of HIV and understand how to protect yourself.”

Here are some ways to start the conversation with your doctor:

  • I’m sexually active and I would like to talk about my risks for STIs and HIV.
  • What can I do to prevent STIs and HIV?
  • How often should I get tested for HIV?
  • Is an HIV-preventive medication right for me?

There is much stigma around HIV, including that it only affects certain “kinds of people” or that it is confined to the LGBTQ+ community. You should be comfortable speaking with medical professionals without fear of judgment or shame.

“That might mean switching doctors, which may seem like a hassle,” Dr. Tailor said. “In the end it’s your health, and that’s worth a little discomfort in the long run.”

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