What happens when you visit clinic after you have received a HIV diagnosis?

You will almost certainly be feeling shocked and upset after finding out you are positive for HIV. The staff are aware of this and will do their best to give you the time and information needed to make your visits to the clinic as comfortable and informative as possible.

In the first few of weeks following your diagnosis, you will be introduced to a clinical nurse specialist or an experienced nurse. You may also be offered support by one of our health advisors. During this visit you can discuss any issues you feel are important and ask any questions you may have. We will provide practical information about the clinic including opening times, our appointment system, where to get support and where to go if you are unwell. You are likely to require lots of information about HIV.


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Common questions:

  • Does this mean I will die?
  • How did I get it?
  • How long have I had it?
  • Who should I tell?
  • What about work?
  • Do I need treatment?
  • What treatment’s are available?
  • What is my immune system?
  • How has my immune system been affected?

At the first visit we will take some blood to carry out further tests. The reasons for this will be explained and you will be advised about further appointments to receive these results. Your follow-up appointment will most likely be with a doctor about two to three weeks from your blood tests. This is to ensure all results are ready and the doctor can make an assessment based on these. During this time you will be given sources of support and telephone numbers to contact staff in the department if you need to. You will not be left to cope alone. Sometimes there are reasons to make an appointment to see the doctor more quickly, such as if you are unwell or if you are pregnant.

This will happen even if all blood results are not back, as some form of treatment may be required early on. Please try not to worry about this. The team of people supporting you are very experienced and will explain why this course of action is required. How often you visit the department will depend on your needs. Some patients only need to visit every six months for blood tests and are able to telephone for results. Others may need to start medication and require more frequent visits, particularly when medication has just started. Once stable, visits usually become less frequent. You may attend appointments with a pharmacist or a dietitian, to discuss medication issues.

You may wish to see a social worker or occupational therapist. Or be linked up with some of the voluntary services.

All members of the team work closely together and communicate appropriately with each other, to provide you with a high standard of care. We understand that you may be concerned about confidentiality. Please discuss this with us. You will want to know what happens about your GP, hospital notes and who has access to results and so on. We feel it is very important that you are clear about all of these things. The majority of people who learn that they are HIV positive are devastated. They wonder where they will get the strength from to carry on each day and if they have a future. With help, support and expert care from staff, you will get through this and life will get easier with time. There will be hurdles to overcome but we will do our best to make these as few as possible.